PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2017, Vol. 36 ›› Issue (10): 1208-1217.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2017.10.003

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Trends of research on women's space-time behavior in Western countries and implications for studies in China

Na TA1,2(), Zhilin LIU3,*()   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Geographic Information Science (Ministry of Education), East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241, China
    2. School of Geographic Sciences, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241, China
    3. School of Public Policy and Management, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
  • Online:2017-10-28 Published:2017-10-28
  • Contact: Zhilin LIU;
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.40601159, No.41571153


Feminist geography has been a very influential geographic research field in recent decades. Since women entered labor force in large numbers since the 1950s, urban development and urban planning were more concerned with the social and travel needs of professional women. Thus, studies on women's space-time behavior have drawn great attention from behavior geographer, transportation geographer, and urban planner. In China, although gender equality is believed to have been established since the 1950s, women began to face more challenges in their daily lives in recent years due to socioeconomic transitions. Gender inequality in many social fields is increasing, leading to more space-time constraints and gendered behavior to women. However, spatial behavior research of women in China is underdeveloped, which hinders an adequate understanding of the complex interactions between women's behavior and space. This article aims to put forward a framework for women's space-time behavior study in China. We first review the progress of women's space-time behavior research in Western countries. In early stage, such research focused on individuals' daily behaviors, such as the gender differences in commuting, non-work activity, and travel pattern, in the context of economic transition. Later more scholars became concerned with the household relationship and social inequality faced by women therefore more research on household structure, joint activity, and accessibility was conducted. Scholars have tried to interpret women's space-time behavior from different theoretical perspectives, including economic, sociological, and geographical points. All these efforts have contributed to establishing theories about women's daily life. Compared to their Western counterparts, Chinese women face some special social context, including more institutional and household constraints due to family planning, danwei transition, high proportion of dual-earner households, and emerging gender inequality. Finally, we propose a framework for women' space-time behavior study. We believe that household relationship, accessibility, joint activity, and differences among women should be studied carefully. We also indicate that theoretical studies on women' behavior should be emphasized in the future.

Key words: gender, behavioral geography, feminist geography, literature review