SCIENTIA GEOGRAPHICA SINICA ›› 2019, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (5): 734-741.doi: 10.13249/j.cnki.sgs.2019.05.004

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The Effect of Place Attachment on Urban Residents’ Civic Engagement: The Case of Guangzhou City

Wu Rong1,2(), Huang Xu1,2, Liu Ye1,2, Li Zhigang3,4(), Liu Yuqi5   

  1. 1. School of Geography and Planning, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, Guangdong, China
    2. Guangdong Key Laboratory for Urbanization and Geo-simulation, Guangzhou 510275, Guangdong, China
    3. School of Urban Design, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430070, Hubei, China
    4. Hubei Residential Environment Research Center of Engineering and Technology, Wuhan 430070, Hubei, China
    5. Faculty of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong 999077, China
  • Received:2018-04-09 Revised:2018-07-02 Online:2019-05-10 Published:2021-03-17
  • Contact: Li Zhigang;
  • Supported by:
    Excellent Young Scholars Program of National Natural Science Foundation of China(41422103);General Program of National Natural Science Foundation of China(41771167);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41501151);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41701153)


China has experienced an unprecedented surge of rural-urban migration since the mid 1980s, which has led to rapid growth of the urban population, especially in large cities. Along with the vigorous reconstruction of urban space, residents’ place attachment to the neighborhood and their civic engagement are also dramatically changing, which deserves in-depth research. Particularly, without the official residential registration status(Hukou in Chinese), floating population own a lower level of place attachment to the destination neighborhood, and they seem to be lack of aspiration for civic engagement. Against this background, the first objective of this article is to explore the relationship between residents’ place attachment and their civic engagement(which is framed by two dimensions: actual participation behavior and aspiration for civic engagement), with the emphasis on the mediation effect in their interactions. The other purpose is to discuss the heterogeneity of residents’ civic engagement brought by the difference in their Hukou status. It contrasts the group of local residents with the group of migrants, especially in the fields of their aspiration for civic engagement and related mediation effects. In light of the evidence from a 2015 survey of about 1 273 residents in Guangzhou, our empirical findings by a stepwise approach of LPM Models have found that: 1) Residents’ place attachment has a directly-positive impact on their aspiration to participate in civic engagement; 2) This relation is mediated by residents’ actual participation behavior: place attachment also exert an indirect effect on the future aspiration via actual participation behavior; 3) Compared to the group of local residents, migrants hold a lower level of place attachment and civic engagement (both actual behavior and future aspiration); 4) The mediation effect of migrants’ actual participation behavior is much weaker than the one of local residents. These results imply that: without Hukou status, migrants did not get a positive feedback from their participation experience and thereby are not eager to participate in civic engagement. Based on these findings, this article outlines the nature of heterogeneity of place attachment and the institutional barriers of civic engagement in urban China: The Hukou system is still restricting migrants’ participation. Thus, to improve residents’ social wellbeing and their sense of gaining, policymaking needs to give more emphasis on the equalization of public services and the access to civic engagement, especially for migrants.

Key words: civic engagement, place attachment, neighborhood governance, hukou, Guangzhou

CLC Number: 

  • K901.2