Ending gated communities: the rationales for resistance in China

Colleen Chiu-Shee, Brent D. Ryan, Lawrence J. Vale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although gated communities (GCs) have spread globally, their prevalence in China is often attributed to China’s unique tradition of gated living. In 2016, China announced policy recommendations intending to end GCs, which faced societal resistance. To elucidate the nature of this resistance, we interviewed experienced Chinese officials, practitioners, and scholars—who, inevitably, were themselves GC residents. They challenge the policy in two ways: policy-rejectors justify gating as common sense and stress risks of ungating, whereas policy-sympathizers understand the policy shift but doubt its feasibility. Their rationales reveal ingrained cognitive dissonance and entrenched state-society tension. Such sentiments that resist ungating collectively create practical and ideological barriers to mitigating housing segregation. China’s GCs showcase how private production of civic goods prioritizes market rules and promotes individual values. China’s failure in ungating suggests that the prevalence of privately produced communities can justify exclusion, normalize “gated mindsets,” and reinforce socioeconomic and spatial inequalities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1482-1511
Number of pages30
JournalHousing Studies
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • China
  • club goods
  • Gated communities
  • gated mindsets
  • housing development
  • social resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Urban Studies


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