PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2016, Vol. 35 ›› Issue (12): 1506-1516.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2016.12.007

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Behavior space of suburban residents in Beijing based on family life course

Hongbo CHAI(), Jian FENG*()   

  1. College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
  • Online:2016-12-20 Published:2016-12-20
  • Contact: Jian FENG;
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41671157


The suburbs are an important part of urban space. Through the analysis of the formation and change of behavior space of suburban residents, we can understand the interactive relationship between behavior space and urban space. Existing studies about behavior space of suburban residents pay much attention to aggregated data based on individuals but little attention is paid to family units. This study used family as a basic unit to explain the micro-level behavior space of suburban residents. It chose three different types of families as cases, which all lived between the fifth and the sixth ring roads of Beijing. By using qualitative research methods, we analyzed the important life events in their life courses and the influence on their behavior. The results show that there's a dialectical relationship between the life course and the daily behavior of each individual in these families. Migration and changes of individuals' employment, social role in a family, and family structure are all important life events of a family. The influences of these events are in two aspects. On the one hand, the interaction of home-work space constrains the daily activities of family members. On the other hand, the changes of job-housing relationship and family structure influence family division of labor. Different family division of labor also affects the daily activities of male and female parents. Although gender differences are still existing and different among different families, a family can influence and coordinate the daily activities of the family members through different strategies. Suburban space expands the gender differences in activity and mobility of individuals, but family, as a coordination mechanism, can help individuals to cope better.

Key words: family, life-course theory, life event, behavior space, suburban, Beijing