Edited by Ray Yep, June Wang and Thomas Johnson
Chapter 7: Re-imaging Beijing: the making and selling of a post-socialist Chinese metropolis
This chapter traces the history of the spectacular transformations that have remade the city of Beijing in the years leading to the hosting of the 2008 Olympics. It examines the use of mega-events as a tool of state promotion, an instrument of urban image construction and an alibi for urban socio-spatial restructuring, in ways that accelerate the marketization of the urban landscape and exacerbate socio-spatial polarization. The chapter revisits the notion of the spectacle as a technique of governance and argues for its continued relevance as a powerful conceptual tool for analysing structures of power, revealing how they co-opt the material landscape to build, consolidate and reproduce their hegemony. The chapter thus demonstrates the way in which the state and the market coexist in the form of the spectacle as a way of regulating society. It considers issues of social justice, inequality and exclusion in the beautification of the city’s social and physical landscape, through the conspicuous use of architecture, the construction of spectacular spaces of consumption and the use of social reform and disciplining programmes, which seek to transform the city’s human environment and to eliminate visible traces of poverty and decay.
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