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In an effort to contribute to the current discussion on accumulation by dispossession (ABD), we propose that it is necessary to take a closer attention to the link between the state and ABD. Such an attention is necessary because, as we show in our review of the existing literature, each of the existing definitions of ABD has its own theoretical weaknesses. Rather than look for a better definition, we propose contextualizing ABD within the institutionalization of the process of replacing communal property rights with private property rights. In such institutionalization, the state plays a critical role as the final guarantor of property rights. As such, the socio-spatial specificities of the state would strongly influence how ABD unfolds. In the empirical part of this paper, we use this approach to examine the emergence of apartment-dominated residential landscapes in Gangnam District, Seoul, in the 1970s.
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Contextualizing Accumulation by Dispossession: The State
and High-Rise Apartment Clusters in Gangnam, Seoul
Jung Won Sonn* and Hyun Bang Shin^#
*Bartlett School of Planning, University College London
^London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK
#Kyung Hee University, Seoul, South Korea
ABSTRACT: In an effort to contribute to the contemporary debates on accumulation by
dispossession (ABD), we argue for a closer attention to the link between the state and the
ABD. We propose contextualizing ABD within the institutionalization of the process of
replacing communal property rights with private property rights. In such institutionalization,
the state plays a critical role as the final guarantor of property rights. As such, the socio-
spatial specificities of the state would strongly influence how ABD unfolds and how it is
understood. In the empirical part of this paper, we use this approach to focus on a specific
type of capitalist state, that is, the developmental state, to examine the emergence of
apartment-dominated residential landscapes in Gangnam District, Seoul, in the 1970s through
the use of ABD.
KEYWORDS: accumulation by dispossession/primitive accumulation of capital; vertical
accumulation; developmental state; high-rise apartments; Gangnam District, Seoul, South
1. Introduction
A salient feature of Seoul’s residential landscape is the numerous large clusters of high-rise
apartment buildings. To explain the rise of such vertical urbanism, we aim to reveal the
original impetus by illuminating how the South Korean state used various policy measures to
build high-rise apartments in the Gangnam area of Seoul in the 1970s.
Gangnam’s development is important because the area was a prototype that was later applied
to other greenfield sites and then to redevelopment sites as well, thus completely
transforming South Korea’s residential landscape. Gangnam also remains to be the main
source of inspiration or the South Korean version of aspirational urbanism that becomes a
reference point for other regional cities in the country to emulate.
The word gangnam literally means “south of a river.” In South Korea, however, Gangnam
conventionally refers to the three districts (gu in Korean administrative terms) within Seoul’s
Gangnam, i.e., Gangnam-gu, Seocho-gu, and Songpa-gu. We use the conventional definition in this
paper and treat it as a proper noun.
Based on this case study of the South Korean state’s involvement in constructing Gangnam,
we make a theoretical contribution to the understanding of how state characteristics influence
the unfolding of “accumulation by dispossession” (hereafter, ABD), a concept deployed by
David Harvey (2003). The state’s characteristics are important because ABD involves the
replacement of one type of property right by another, the most common being the
replacement of communal or collective property rights by private property rights. The state is
the only entity that can formalize property rights; it has the power to draw the line between
formal and informal, and to decide who has the right to access formal institutions to enact
their rights (Roy, 2005).
For this case study of Seoul’s urban development in the 1970s, we used several data
collection methods. First, we conducted extensive archival research. Using major online and
offline libraries and data repositories, we located historic publications by key actors in 1970s
housing development. These included documents produced by the Seoul Municipal
Government, the Bank of Korea, the Korea National Housing Corporation, and Hyundai
Engineering and Construction Co. (Korea’s largest construction company for several
decades). We also acquired newspaper articles and key professionals’ memoirs. These were
augmented by in-depth interviews with two surviving former government officials who
played significant roles in Seoul’s housing development during the 1970s. These interviews
were used primarily to crosscheck data from historical archives. Finally, we referred to
academic publications by local researchers, whose works are reinterpreted from our
theoretical angle.
2. A state-theoretical reinterpretation of ABD
2.1. Four interpretations of ABD and the primitive accumulation of capital
David Harvey’s (2003) concept of “accumulation by dispossession” covers a wide range of
economic and extra-economic means of capital accumulation. Harvey (2005, pp. 160165)
lists four types of ABD, each of which covers a wide terrain. They are capital accumulation
through 1) privatization and commodification, 2) financialization, 3) management and
manipulation of crises, and 4) state redistribution.
Issues investigated under the ABD concept are not completely new in other branches of the
social sciences. For example, development studies have widely dealt with biopiracy, land
grabbing, development-induced displacement, and the use of state violence against resistance
(Mishra, 2019). With the introduction of ABD, however, the discussion diversified and
expanded within and beyond the scope of development studies, most notably to geography.
The privatization of public housing in the UK and other European countries in the 1980s as
well as entrepreneurial turn of urban governance, which gave developers opportunities for
new development, can certainly be understood as ABD (MacLeod and Johnstone, 2013).
ABD can also be applied to compulsory purchase, a planning instrument invented for the
public interest but often abused for the interests of private developers (Christophers, 2010;
Gray and Porter, 2015). Levien (2011) examined the provision of state assistance to help
developers capture rural land in India, while Ortega (2016) and AlShehabi and Saleh Suroor
(2016) used ABD to explain gentrification in Manila and reclamation in Bahrain,
respectively. Further diversifying the discussion, Samson (2015) proposed epistemic
dispossession, which refers to dismissing the value of users’ knowledge of certain
properties: Such dismissal undermines the legitimacy of use rights, thus facilitating the
introduction of private ownership in a way that displaces original users. Thatcher, O’Sullivan,
and Mahmoudi (2016) applied ABD to the ways global IT firms collected big data without
compensating the public who produced such data.
Table 1. Summary of debate on primitive accumulation of capital/accumulation by dispossession
Despite the wide application of ABD, its definition is still subject to debates. These debates
are actually a part of a larger discussion regarding the primitive accumulation of capital (PA),
partly because examples of the two concepts significantly overlap, and partly because Harvey
himself claimed PA and ABD are essentially the same. Harvey says he uses ABD, not PA,
because the latter can cause the misunderstanding that PA occurs only in the “primitive”
stage of capitalism. In this debate over PA/ABD, we can identify four different
interpretations of the concept (See Table 1 for summary).
The first interpretation treats PA as a historical stage. PA appears as a stage in Marx’s own
texts. His discussions of PA mainly appear in volumes I and III of Capital and in Theories of
Surplus Value. Excluding appearances in section titles, PA appears 29 times: 20 times in
volume I of Capital, three times in volume III, and six times in Theories of Surplus Value.
None of these occurrences deny that PA is a historical stage, and some explicitly support that
interpretation. Marx writes, for example, that primitive accumulation appears as a distinct
historical process, as the process of the emergence of capital and as a transition from one
mode of production to another” (Marx, 1998 [1867], p. 272, italics in original). He also wrote
that “primitive accumulation (previous accumulation of Adam Smith) preceding capitalistic
accumulation; an accumulation not the result of the capitalistic mode of production, but its
starting point” (Marx, 1998 [1867], pp. 10191020). There are a few other places where
Marx treats it as historical phase. This historical view of PA has been dominant in the
Marxist political tradition. Engels (1934 [1878], 1973 [1845]) shared Marx’s view of it as
historical phase, and Lenin (1960 [1899], 1970 [1894]) endorsed Engels’s interpretation. As
such, Althusser and Balibar (1970) view PA as “an enclave of ‘descriptive’ history in a work
of economic theory” (275). Since PA was used as a historical term, Marx could list all the
different types of PA under one term without performing the difficult task of providing a
coherent definition of the concept. However, with the notable exception of Zrembka (2002),
this interpretation does not seem to be supported by contemporary authors.
Contemporary Marxists such as De Angeleis (2001), Wood (2006) and Nichols (2015)
propose a second interpretation. They propose that PA (and ABD) should be defined as a
process that creates social relations that enable “normal” capital accumulationthat is, the
production of a proletariat by separating workers from ownership of the means of production.
This is consistent with some of Marx’s own writings. Enclosure, the most prominent example
of PA in Marx, is certainly a process of separating peasants from land. He writes that PA is
“the historical process of divorcing the producer from the means of production” (Marx, 1998
[1867], p. 1021). The proponents of this interpretation do not deny that Marx’s examples of
PA include historical events that did not necessarily produce capitalist social relations, such
as the slave trade in Liverpool (ibid., p. 1087) and the regulation of wage levels (ibid., p.
1055). However, these proponents do claim that such separation is the essential aspect of
Marx’s own writings on PA, and that this interpretation is the most effective way to
recognize the contemporariness of PA.
The third interpretation associates PA/ABD with extra-economic means of dispossession,
which Glassman (2006), Wood (2006), and Weber (2008) support. Marx wrote that in
addition to direct forces, “[t]he bourgeoisie, at its rise, wants and uses the power of the state
to ‘regulate’ wages, i.e., to force them within the limits suitable for surplus-value making, to
lengthen the working-day and to keep the laborer himself in the normal degree of dependence
(Marx, 1998 [1867], p. 1055). The supporters of this interpretation uses extra-economic
rather than non-economic because they do not reject the economic means of dispossession.
Harvey, for example, explicitly claims that ABD is “primarily economic rather than extra-
economic” (or at best, both economic and noneconomic) and “is most importantly exercised
through the credit system and financial power” (2006, p. 159). Similarly, in his work on the
migration of rural peasants to industrial cities in China, Weber (2008) claims that peasants
left their lands mainly because monetary gains were bigger in industrial cities.
The fourth interpretation involves the distinction between the inside and outside of
capitalism. This line of argument starts from Rosa Luxemburg (1951), who claimed that
capitalism always needs its “outside” for the sale of products. Similarly, as Samir Amin
(1974) notes, there is always a transfer of value from the precapitalist economy to the
capitalist one, and this process is one of primitive accumulation (p. 3).
2.2. Reflections on the four interpretations
In evaluating the four existing interpretations in the literature, in addition to the theoretical
coherence of each, we consider how useful each is for further advancing empirical studies.
We can easily rule out the first. This is because we agree with Harvey (2006) that PA/ABD,
as perennially a part of capitalism, helps us explain how capital accumulates outside the
“normal” accumulation of capital in today’s capitalismthat is, if we can set aside, for now,
the question of what, exactly, the “normal” accumulation of capital is.
The second interpretation has a serious weakness in its application to empirical studies. If we
accept separation as the core of ABD, we lose a large part of the flourishing discussion on the
various types of dispossession by capital. Land grabbing and the proletarianization of
peasants in the developing world certainly involve separating workers from the means of
production. However, the privatization of public assetsone of the most common forms of
ABD in recent decadesdoes not cause such separation.
In addition to the problem of application, this interpretation also has theoretical problems.
Separation cannot distinguish PA from the “normal” or expanded accumulation of capital.
According to proponents of this interpretation, the expanded accumulation of capital has two
aspects related to separation. Expanded accumulation keeps the proletariat separated from the
means of production by not placing the accumulation of surplus value in their hands.
According to Bonefeld (2001), the second aspect of expanded accumulation is the “renewed
separation of new populations from the means of production” (p. 1). Harvey, siding at times
with advocates of the separation interpretation, claims that the devaluation of the means of
production in times of crisis (e.g., the East Asian financial crisis of 1998) is an example of
ABD. However, the takeover of less efficient means of production by those with more
efficient means is a normal part of capital accumulation. Marx called such takeover the
centralization of capital (Marx, 1998 [1867], p. 898), which existing literature on PA/ABD
has not paid much attention to. Crisis does not change the nature of the centralization of
capital but only magnifies and accelerates it. This process separates some former capitalists
from their means of production, effectively removing the boundary between PA as separation
and the expanded accumulation of capital. As such, the second interpretation, which hinges
upon separation, has problems with both its theoretical definition and empirical application.
The third interpretationPA/ABD as an extra-economic means of accumulationseems
theoretically simple enough to apply to various cases. The main problem, however, is that
proponents of this interpretation also claim that economic means of PA/ABD exist, or are
even more important, as noted above. This raises the question of whether there is anything
that is not PA/ABD, except for the appropriation of surplus value in production processes.
Harvey’s all-encompassing list of ABDs, quoted at the beginning of this section, is clearly
symptomatic of this problem.
The fourth interpretation, the interface approach, is useful for understanding what is
happening in the developing world. The spatial core of capitalism interacts with the
noncapitalist part of the world, continuously dispossessing it. However, this definition is not
applicable to cases of ABD within advanced capitalism. Harvey tries to avoid this problem by
expanding the definition. He claims that capitalism not only exploits its outsideusually,
noncapitalist economiesbut also “necessarily and always creates its own ‘other’” and
exploits it. The two prominent examples of the exploitation of the “other” are the
privatization of public assets and the exploitation of the unemployed and the precariat.
Within the Marxist framework, however, a relative surplus population is a necessary part of a
normal capitalist economy. Ashman and Callinicos (2006) correctly point out that
unemployed workers are financially supported by state welfare systems funded by taxes on
wages and profits (p. 120). However, even in societies where welfare provision is not well
established, a relative surplus population is a functional part of the capitalist system, not
something outside of it. Without a relative surplus population, wages might go above the
social cost of labor reproduction, which would reduce the profit rate of capital (Marx, 1998
[1867], p. 917). Thus, there is no real need to add PA/ABD to the discussion of relative
surplus population.
To discuss Harvey’s second examplethe privatization of public assetswe must revisit the
difference between the normal accumulation of capital and PA/ABD. Harvey claims that
educational systems, state-owned utility companies, and social housing remain as nonmarket
commodities and eventually become the targets of ABD. However, such consumption funds
all contribute to lowering the social cost of reproducing labor power and thus lower the wage
level. In that sense, these consumption funds constitute a functional part of capitalist
accumulation, not something outside it. The provision of these consumption funds can be
seen as a collective action of the capitalist class as a whole for the maintenance of the
capitalist system. It is a pursuit of economies of scale, not too different from mergers and
acquisition of firms.
Related to this issue is another problem that Harvey disregards: the fact that ABD is an
intraclass conflict within the capitalist class as much as it is an interclass conflict. Harvey
claims that contemporary ABD is a response to overaccumulation. He regards neoliberalism
as a political project that aims, in large part, to facilitate ABD, placing the burden on the most
vulnerable part of the population (Harvey, 2003, pp. 184185).
ABD, however, does not benefit the capitalist class as a whole. Even if we do not accept the
econocentric assumption of some Marxists that the total wage is always equal to the total
social cost of labor reproduction, and accept only that wage is determined by the power
relation between classes, then we must accept that an increase in labor reproduction costs will
make the working class demand higher wages. Harvey (2003) claims that under
overaccumulation, the “neoliberal project of privatization makes a lot of sense” (149).
However, it actually makes sense only to those capitalists who are lucky enough to capture
privatized assets. The remaining capitalists suffer from 1) the rising cost of labor
reproduction, which will eventually raise wages, and 2) competition with the lucky ones
whose production costs are lower as a result of capturing privatized assets.
This neglect of the intraclass dimension of ABD is itself a problematic but also leads to the
neglect of the fact that such intraclass struggle is a link that connects ABD and the general
instability of capitalism. If ABD can be a political solution to falling rate of profit as Harvey
suggests, ABD should be the ultimate solution to the instability of capitalism, which is
difficult to accept. Once we accept the intraclass dimension, we can understand that ABD is
only a temporary fix in which each sect of capital attempts to achieve superprofit making the
problem of falling rate of profit to even worse to other sects.
Based on this discussion, we conclude that it is difficult to define ABD in a way that
encompasses all its various uses in the current literature. Once we accept this difficulty, we
are left with two choices. The first is to abandon ABD in our discussion and use other more
specific concepts, such as land grabbing, biopiracy, and state-led gentrification. We are
reluctant to adopt this option considering how useful this concept has been for revealing the
class nature of various capitalist processes that actually have similar mechanisms. We
propose, instead, accepting that various ABD mechanisms comprise a nebula of events that
bear only a family resemblance to each other. Here, while a universal definition of the
concept might not be realistic, context-specific definitions may be more useful and feasible.
Among the various contexts that PA/ABD can be seen in, we argue that the specificities of
the state are key factors. In the next section, we discuss how attention to the specificities of
the state can resolve some of the abovementioned theoretical problems of PA/ABD.
2.3. Looking at ABD through the state
Marx and Harvey both acknowledge the critical role of the state in PA and ABD, though
neither properly theorizes it. Marx wrote that the state must “hasten, hot-house fashion, the
process of transformation of the feudal model of production into the capitalist mode,
and…shorten the transition” (1998 [1867], p. 1975). Similarly, Harvey argues that the state’s
role in “both backing and promoting” ABD through “its monopoly of violence and
definitions of legality” is an innate element of capitalism (2003, p. 145). We would like to go
one step further and argue that the state is not a facilitator of PA/ABD but a final guarantor,
and the way the state intervenes defines the nature of ABD.
To show the importance of the state, we start from the fact that ABD is a transformation of
property rightsusually to private property rights from other types (Dobb, 1963; Heynan and
Perkins, 2005; Robbins and Luginbuhl, 2005). As noted by Harvey himself, ABD involves
the dispossession of rights in order to search for extra domains of accumulation. ABD is
conditioned by what types of property rights are legitimized and prioritized by society and
how the state endorses those property rights. This is endorsement, rather than legalization,
because not all legitimization and formalization takes the form of legalization. There was no
law that enabled Europeans to encroach upon Native American land, but the colonial state
endorsed such action by choosing not to take action. The enclave moment in England and
Germany was only legalized post facto.
For instance, if peasants’ use of feudal land in seventeenth-century Germany had been
recognized as an acceptable form of property rights and had been formalized in the modern
capitalist state institution, then ABD over such land would not have been possible. Such
property rights were, however, left in a gray area residing outside of a formalized type of
property rights under the emerging capitalist state. That was why the process of formalization
created institutional room for ABD to occur. Similarly, in the developing world, aboriginals
used resources without formalized ownership, which can be understood as implicit use rights.
ABD in that case would be the transformation of such implicit use rights into private
ownership by dispossessors such as multinational corporations. In the case of privatization
programs in transitional economies, a form already institutionalized by the state was suddenly
deemed inappropriate, and the state reinstitutionalized property rights through the
privatization process, as seen in the case of Chinese local governments’ privatization of
collectively owned land (Shin, 2010, 2016). Regarding privatization programs in the
developed world (Fernandes, 2009), the resources were originally owned by the state and
used by the people. Since, in this context, the state is the materialization of the collective,
ABD in this case denotes the transfer from collective property rights to private property
The acceptance of private property rights is determined by various factors. However,
formalizing these rights and delineating which property right is entitled to protection can only
be performed by the state. Even if dispossession is mainly accomplished through violence,
violence cannot finalize the transfer since the property can again be violently taken by
another entity. Successive violent takeovers can end when one such takeover is endorsed by
the state and becomes formal. As such, it is reasonable to say that relatively stable property
This is not to suggest that we view the state in isolation: the state is to be interpreted from a strategic
relational perspective (see Jessop, 1990) that situates the state in shifting configurations of state-
society relations. Understanding the process of building the nation state in shifting state-society and
state-capital relations thus becomes paramount.
rights can only be established through the formal institutionalization of new ownershipa
power reserved for the state in modern political systems.
A logical corollary of the state’s importance is the idea that specific state characteristics
would influence how ABD unfolds. For this reason, we acknowledge Levien’s (2011)
contribution but try to go beyond it. Levien showed that ABD is contingent upon various
political factors. Compared to Levien, we try to emphasize the stability of the way ABD
unfolds by connecting the various types of ABD in relation to different types of capitalist
states. Specific issues in ABDsuch as what types of property rights are accepted, what is an
acceptable way to transfer property rights, and what kinds of properties become objects of
ABDmust be explained in relation to the historico-spatial specificities of the state.
Attention to state specificities can help resolve the economic versus extra-economic debate in
ABD. Such debate must be contextualized since the boundary between these two spheres is
not given but contingent upon sociotemporal specificities. Take loan sharks, for example.
Many states illegalize lending with interest rates above a certain level. Without the state’s
protection, lenders with higher interest rates have to resort to private violence to ensure
repayment. Thus, predatory lending is based on extra-economic means. However, the state’s
criteria for interest rates are rather arbitrary from an economic point of view. In that sense,
the boundary between economic and extra-economic is not economically determined but
politically established by the state. Furthermore, the fundamental function of the capitalist
state is to monopolize violence that can be exercised against those who violate the rules of
property rights within the economic realm. In that sense, the debate over economic versus
noneconomic cannot have a general conclusion. It does, however, have a conclusion that is
contingent upon the specificities of the state.
Furthermore, considering the specificities of the state can solve the problem of ABD as
intraclass struggle (i.e., struggle among various sects of the capitalist class). Marxist theories
of the state almost always recognize this. Dependency theorists such as Frank (1966) claim
that comprador capitalists’ interests are prioritized by the state in the global periphery.
Milliband’s (1969) instrumentalist theorization of the state implies that the sect that has
stronger ties with the state can better use the state for its own interests. Jessop (1990), using
his concept of the strategic selectivity of the state, claims that a capitalist state is always
biased toward the interests of a certain sect of the capitalist class. These theorists are just a
few among many.
Which sect the state prefers is closely tied to the nature of the state, which is partly
determined by the balance of inter- and intraclass power relations. An example would be
Keynesian large-scale infrastructure projects funded by the state through the issuance of
government bonds. Such bonds eventually become a burden on the national economy as a
whole. Although such projects are meant to revitalize the national economy, capitalists in the
building and financial sectors certainly benefit more than those in other sectors. Similarly, the
neoliberal state’s bailout of financial institutions during the 2008 global economic crisis
certainly benefited the financial sector more than other sectors. Introducing the state into the
discussion of ABD helps us to understand such intraclass struggles in ABD.
In this paper, we highlight this connection and focus on the relation between ABD and a
specific type of capitalist state: the developmental state. The concept of the developmental
state builds upon the long tradition regarding the state’s role in capital accumulation (Steuart,
1767; List, 1841; Gerschenkron, 1962). Authors such as Johnson (1982) and Wade (1990)
have used this concept to explain various aspects of state interventions in Japan, South Korea,
and Taiwan that enabled condensed industrialization in the second half of the twentieth
century. These authors argue that to accomplish economic growth, developmental states
assumed the role of active entrepreneur rather than the typical role of passive regulator. The
states chose, from a long-term perspective, which industries to grow, and they accomplished
their goals through the direct control of financial institutions, protective trade policy, export
promotion, official and unofficial coordination among competing firms, and other means.
Unlike its Taiwanese counterpart, the Korean variant of the developmental state uses the
largest conglomerates, or chaebols, as the state’s junior partners. The state had chaebols get
involved in state-selected industrial sectors and offered monopolistic or oligopolistic
positions within those sectors (Amsden, 1989; Sonn and Lee, 2015). While acknowledging
that the neo-Weberian approaches to developmental statism can fall into the trap of
methodological nationalism and of separating the state from the society (see Doucette and
Park, 2019), we use the characteristics of the developmental state to discuss how ABD
unfolds under the South Korean developmental state. More specifically, we consider various
policy measures the South Korean state used to create the peculiar residential landscape of
Gangnam in the 1970s. In doing so, we emphasize that the creation of residential landscapes
in the style of Gangnam was based on the dispossession of land, identified here as a key
characteristic of ABD in the early phase of capitalist accumulation under the developmental
The specific aspects of the developmental state we pay particular attention to are as follows.
Johnson (1982) writes that from the beginning of the concept, the developmental state has
prioritized economic development over other goals. The developmental state also engages
with selective areas of consumption fund (such s housing) to facilitate social reproduction of
Taking this analytical framework, this paper does not engage with the expanding geographical
literature on the formation and reproduction of the developmental state. Geographers such as
Glassman and Choi (2014), Hwang and Park (2014), and Park and Choi (2014) have shown that the
developmental state is not a monolithic rational actor but a reflection of the vector sum of various
forces that operate at local, national, and international scales. We agree with them, but we do not
directly engage with that discussion in this paper. For the purpose of this paper to discuss the
connection between the state specificity and the ABD, we choose to look across policies cross-
sectionally and attempt to find the pattern of ABD, thereby showing that the pattern reflects the nature
of the state and not the complicated process that those specificities of the state are formed.
labour (Holliday, 2000) and for its legitimation (Castells, 1992) but unwilling to apply a
major part of its resources toward consumption fund. For the South Korean developmental
state, as both Amsden (1989) and Chibber (2003) explained, the state treated large capital as
its junior partner for national economic growth, and the state used stick-and-carrot
approaches in dealing with large capital. Such approaches included access to low-interest
loans, which created monopolistic or oligopolistic markets for firms that ventured into
sectors the state prioritized. Some of these formal rewards are believed to have been
promised through informal deals. We will examine how these characteristics of state that the
authors of developmental state identified are reflected upon the way ABD unfolded in the
1970s Gangnam.
3. Urban conditions and housing production in 1970s Seoul
The early days of introducing apartments as dwellings had both successes and failures, but
apartments quickly became objects of desire and speculative aspiration (Shin and Kim,
2016). Financial capital resulting from the booming economyespecially the overseas
construction market in the 1970sflowed into the new commercial apartment units,
transforming them into appealing immobile investment assets in the context of high 1970s
inflation rates.
Figure 1: The share of apartments in housing stocks by borough
Source: Authors’ calculation based on Statistics Korea (2013)
Apartments as a primary housing typology continue to dominate to this day. According to the
2010 census, in Seoul, 59% of all dwellings were apartment units, and approximately 40% of
all municipal households lived in apartment units (Statistics Korea, 2011). The gradual
dominance of apartments in Seoul is shown in Figure 1. Given the history of apartment
provision during South Korea’s urbanization and economic development, one might say that
apartments arrived at the right time. We argue, however, that the mass arrival of apartments
occurred not as a natural evolution of the market but by design of the developmental state.
Before turning to the analysis of state actions, this section will first examine the economic
and political background of the time.
3.1. Increased demand, and mass production as the response
The Korean War (19501953) left half of all residential units in South Korea destroyed or
uninhabitable (Kim W., 1996). Despite postwar reconstruction efforts, because the population
quadrupled within 20 years after the war, by the 1970s the total housing stock became less
than half of what was needed
(Seoul Metropolitan Government, 1973, p. 185). Demand for
higher quality also soared due to income growth.
Given such conditions, the state attempted to supply a large quantity of new housing.
However, a question arises about why it had to be apartments rather than other types of
dwellings. One possible answer has to do with population density. However, not all cities
experiencing rapid urbanization became filled with high-rise apartments. Cities in Taiwan
and the Netherlandsjust as densely populated as Seoulare not full of high-rise dwellings.
On the other hand, major cities in China are, despite the country’s vast size. The answer to
this question is related to the workings of the state as well as the technical characteristics of
apartment construction.
Since the 1950s, Korean experts had celebrated the apartment as a modern form of dwelling
while condemning detached houses as sources of social ills. We searched AURIC
for articles
in Korean containing the word “apartment” (apateu in Korean) in the title. We limited the
publication years to 19501975 to examine professional views before apartment development
was completed in Gangnam. There were 43 hits. While reading these articlespublished in
professional magazines and academic journals of architecture, housing, and planningwe
did not find a single negative perspective on apartments. Along with the obvious
advantagessuch as cost reduction through standardization, land savings, and economies of
scale in infrastructure provision (Joo, 1966; Lee, 1968)some authors (e.g., Haeyong Lee,
1968) viewed apartments as collective housing units where civil minds were valued and
neighbors cared for each other; meanwhile, “selfish” family culture was associated with
detached houses.
The proportion of the number of dwelling units to the number of households in Seoul fell from
50.1% in 1966 to 45.7% in 1972.
Between 1963 and 1979, the average annual income quadrupled (The Bank of Korea, 2011).
AURIC is short for Architecture & Urban Research Information Center, which provides archive
services for articles on various architectural and urban themes published in South Korea.
While praise for apartments dates to the 1950s (e.g., The Kyunghyang Shinmun, 1963; Kwon
et al., 1955), the widespread praise among professionals in the 1960s seems connected with
the ethos of the time. After General Park Chung-Hee’s military coup in 1961,
industrialization became a way of thinking as well as the aim of all policies (Sonn and Gimm,
2013). This ethos was emphasized in President Park Chung-Hee’s message, reportedly
delivered upon the completion of Mapo Apartment Danji in 1963, praising the apartment
estate as “a symbol of revolutionary Korea by establishing a paradise for its future
occupants” and “of a modern collective lifestyle” (MK Business News, 1991; The Hankyoreh
Shinmun, 1999; see also Jeon et al., 2008, pp. 192195).
Given the ethos of the time, it is not surprising that the authoritarian state had the Korea
National Housing Corporation (hereafter, KNHC) develop technologies for the
modularization and standardization of apartment construction not long after the coup. A
prominent construction technology the KNHC experimented with was the concept of danji,
referring to clusters of medium- to high-rise apartment buildings with various communal
Danji was the starting point for all other techniques. The standardized design of danji
obviously reduced design costs. It also created a relatively homogeneous community, which
in turn enabled the collective use of amenities, such as children’s playgrounds, community
centers, sports facilities (mostly tennis courts), and neighborhood shopping facilities, among
others. Standardized design also allows for the standardization of construction materials and
building processes, substantially reducing building costs. Moreover, the danji model helped
minimize the cost of urban infrastructure, spreading the cost across households. That, in turn,
made urban development possible, with minimal costs for the state. Starting with the
Yeongdong Apartment Danji for Civil Servants in 1971, most apartments in Gangnam were
designed following the danji concept (Gangnam District Government, 1993, pp. 185, 376).
3.2. Changing view of housing policy: From welfare goods to commodities
The early 1960s saw a shift from welfare-oriented housing policy to market-based housing
production (Lim, 2005, p. 58). As a reflection of this change, after the 1961 military coup,
responsibility for housing policy was transferred from the Department of Health and Welfare
to the Bureau of Reconstruction under the Economic Planning Board. This meant the state
would intervene more actively through two channels but with minimal public spending (Lim,
2005, p. 40).
The first channel was the establishment of the KNHC in 1962, as mentioned previously. Its
predecessor, the Housing Unit, or Jutaeg Yeongdan, was similar to housing corporations in
the UK and elsewhere, whose main responsibility was to provide social housing for
disadvantaged groups. However, the newly established KNHC was to fund itself by building
and selling new housing units (i.e., more houses with less government money). The obvious
target consumer was the middle class, who could afford these new housing units. On average,
apartments made up about one-third (34.8%) of the KNHC’s annual housing production
between 1962 and 1966 (the period of the first Five-Year Economic Development Plan) but
reached 97.8% between 1972 and 1981 (KNHC, 2001, p. 530).
The second channel comprised the large conglomerates serving as the state’s junior partners.
The state lured private capital by offering semi-oligopolistic positions (this will be explained
later). That mechanism was strikingly similar to the state’s actions in the steel, automobile,
petrochemical, and shipbuilding industries (Yoon, 1994). As a result, large firms’ share in the
housing market increased dramatically. Before the 1970s, commercial housing construction
was largely dominated by small-scale private builders, while major construction firms
associated with conglomerates focused on government-funded infrastructure projects. The
state’s lure worked. Between 1976 and 1979, of 17,108 apartments completed in Gangnam-
gu, nearly two-thirds (62%) were built by private builders (Gangnam District Government,
1993, pp. 380381).
3.3. Why Gangnam?
Even if apartments had to be built, why in Gangnam? As a wide plain, Gangnam certainly
had a geological advantage. However, the decision to pursue greenfield development rather
than redeveloping undocumented settlements pertained to the weak legitimacy of the state.
During the early years of post-Korean War reconstruction, Seoul’s inner-city districts located
north of the Han River were characterized by crowded housing conditions and mushrooming
substandard settlements with illegal dwellings. To stem the growth of these substandard
settlements and to release land for development in modernizing Seoul, the state used its
apparatus and mobilized periodic campaigns to selectively demolish illegal dwellings and
substandard settlements, prevent their construction, and relocate local residents to the urban
outskirts. These attempts to relocate residents to release inner-city areas created severe
problems for the displacees, as clearly seen in the riot at the Gwangju housing complex (Shin
and Kim, 2016). For the Korean developmental state, which was struggling to gain political
legitimacy and achieve national stability to address its developmental goals, such protests
were to be avoided. When relocating urban poor became politically difficult, greenfield
development became the best option. As such, urban expansion to the south of the Han River
and the promotion of the Yeongdong development (subsequently renamed Gangnam) can be
seen as political decisions.
4. Means of dispossession and their consequences
The previous section explained that since the 1960s there had been consensus regarding the
mass production of apartments. However, major construction firms were reluctant to take
risks in this new type of business since government-funded infrastructure projects were
bigger and more stable (Lim, 2005, p. 80). To lure them into the apartment sector under these
circumstances, the state had to create safe and lucrative business opportunities. The policy
measures the state used for this purpose reveal two main aspects of the South Korean
developmental state. First, the state lured businesses into a sector it viewed as strategically
important. Second, public properties were reclaimed from the general public and transferred
to a small number of privileged businessesa process that contributed to capital
accumulation by dispossession. Below, we analyze important policy measures that
constituted the major means of dispossession.
4.1. Flood plain reclamation as the dispossession of public assets
One means of ABD used in the 1970s was the reclamation of flood plains along the Han
River, the main river horizontally dividing the capital city. Many of Gangnam’s earliest
apartment developments were on this reclaimed land. The reclamation of flood plains began
in 1967. Over the following decade, reclamation occurred incrementally, turning nine sites,
or 7.7 km2 of sand beach, into dry land (Chang, 2010). Today’s posh high-rise apartment
zones in Ichon, Jamsil, Yeouido, Banpo, and Apgujeong, among others, were all built on
such reclaimed sites (Figure 2).
Figure 2: Apartment zones (in red) designated in August 1976
Note: The district boundaries refer to the administrative boundaries as of 1975
Source: Prepared by the authors.
Developers’ appropriation of reclaimed flood constituted a dispossession of public assets,
similar to the privatization of public assets under structural adjustment programs in transition
economies. First, the land belonged to the state, which was supposed to use it for the benefit
of citizens. The easy profits developers made through reclamation projects, or through
purchasing reclaimed flood plains at reduced prices, could have been retained by the state. As
an example, consider the land reclamation project at Apgujeong, Gangnam-gu, conducted by
Hyundai, the country’s top builder. The company completed the reclamation of 0.16 km2 in
1972 and retained 0.13 km2 (about 83%), which was subsequently used to construct the
Hyundai apartment danji, the first large-scale commercial housing estate built by a private
firm (Gangnam District Government, 1993, p. 183).
Second, citizens’ use rights associated with public spaces were transferred to private
developers without any compensation. For years, the riverside beaches had been used for
leisure purposes. In summer, the Ichon beach often attracted more than 100,000 daily visitors
who could not afford vacations on the seashore or in the mountains (The Kyunghyang
Shinmun, 1962). Some of these beaches were used for major festivals such as the Air Show
(The Kyunghyang Shinmun, 1968) and political events such as speeches by presidential
candidates (The Kyunghyang Shinmun, 1961, 1963). Physical access to the Han River, as
well as the panoramic river views, was monopolized by the apartment estates constructed on
the reclaimed flood plains and adjacent planned areas. Exclusive access to the river,
appropriated by builders and homebuyers, was reflected in the market value of apartments.
This opportunity to extract extra profits fueled suspicions of corruption, which in some cases
resulted in political scandal (The Kyunghyang Shinmun, 1969, 1971). Under the
developmental state, informal coordination, along with formal consultation, was often used to
lure private firms into sectors the government prioritized, such as heavy and chemical
industries and defense industries in the 1970s and electronics industries in the 1980s (Sonn,
2007). A similar method was used for apartment development. A conspicuous example is the
aforementioned reclamation of Apgujeong. Hyundai initially applied for government
permission to develop a manufacturing district. Then, without city hall’s knowledge, the
central government changed the zoning into a housing district, which would give builders
much bigger profits by providing commercial housing estates. Furthermore, the original
permit was for the development of 0.12 km2, but Hyundai exceeded this by 30%, eventually
reclaiming 0.16 km2. When city hall ordered the restoration of the illegally reclaimed portion,
the company simply did not comply. Hyundai ultimately got away with it, which aroused
suspicion that the company had used connections above the local government level (Cheong,
1990). The reclaimed land became the foundation for Hyundai’s construction of high-rise
luxury apartment estates from the late 1970s, for which it used its own brand name, Hyundai,
which later became a name brand of luxury apartments.
4.2. Intraclass dispossession through exclusion for size
While floodplain reclamation amounted to dispossession from the general public, there was
also an intraclass dimension of ABD in apartment developmentnamely, the dispossession
and exclusion of small landlords and developers through government interventions.
In August 1976, the state designated “apartment construction zones,” which enabled the
construction of large-scale apartment estates (The Kyunghyang Shinmun, 1976a). Eleven
such zones were designated, with a total area of 12.29 km2 (see Figure 2). Banpo (5.51 km2),
Jamsil (2.45 km2), and Apgujeong (1.19 km2) were the three largest zones, which, along with
Cheongdam and Dogok, were part of the Gangnam district that came into existence on
October 1, 1975 (Seoul Metropolitan Government, 1999, p. 47). Within two years,
apartments constructed in the Gangnam district became especially popular, leading to an
upturn in the real-estate cycle (The Kyunghyang Shinmun, 1977). They became some of the
most sought-after homes in Seoul. By March 1977, one more site was added to the original
designation, and 12 sites in total, or 12.70 km2, were designated as apartment zones (MK
Business News, 1977a). Altogether, they covered approximately 2% of Seoul’s total surface
area. Within each zone, only apartment buildings and public facilities permitted by the master
plans were to be constructed. To facilitate sales of new units, the apartment zoning included
exemptions from sales and registration tax, too (The Kyunghyang Shinmun, 1976b).
Apartment zones additionally benefited from the state-led provision of transport
infrastructure. The Seoul Municipal Government embarked on the construction of the circular
Metro Line No 2, which effectively connected major apartment zones south of the Han River
with the historic city center in 1977 (MK Business News, 1977b). Key apartment zones were
also connected by a number of bridges, including the Seongsu Bridge in April 1977 (Dong-a
Ilbo, 1979). Other measures included the relocation of major elite high schools (e.g.,
Gyenoggi and Whimoon) from the old center of Seoul to the Gangnam district, for which the
state offered various incentives. This helped to further attract middle class people who
wanted to send their children to these elite schools.
The zoning placed various constraints on the rights of existing private landowners to ensure
that the state’s vision of transforming the zones into high-rise residential landscapes was
realized. For instance, those who owned land parcels in an apartment zone were required to
sell the land only to the government or to construction firms building apartments in the
corresponding zone (Dong-a Ilbo, 1976).
In addition, only “certified construction firms” (jijeong eopchae) were allowed to build in
designated apartment zones. On May 12, 1978, the central government appointed 46
construction firms as jijeong eopchae. Only these certified firms were allowed to build
apartments in apartment zones (MK Business News, 1978a). Based on the 1977 revision of
the Act for the Promotion of Housing Construction, these certified firms were given
preferential treatment, such as the power to apply for the compulsory purchase of privately
owned lands if more than two-thirds of the land within an apartment zone was acquired
The certified firms were also allowed to receive foreign loans for housing
construction (MK Business News, 1978b). The main justification for confining housing
construction to a selected few was based on the understanding that small firms could not
While clearly stated in the Act and subsequent government guidelines, compulsory purchase was
exercised very rarely since companies feared it could damage their reputations.
handle the large-scale development of high-rise apartment estates, which required capital and
Zoning substantially increased the value of the land over the years. If the state had not
wielded its zoning power and allowed the market to determine the course of urban
development, the location of each site would have determined the rent, which, in turn, would
have determined the density of development. Thus, the practice of exempting certain areas
from density regulation while regulating all other areas resulted in the transfer of potential
rent from the latter to the former.
By 1987, 93,552 apartments had been built in the
Gangnam area: 47.56% were supplied by the nine biggest certified firms, 22.45% by the
other 37 certified firms, and the remaining 30% by other firms (Lim, 2005, p. 88). They were
the main beneficiaries of this state-created oligopolistic market.
One of the main characteristics of the developmental state was allowing for monopolies or
oligopolies in the sector by excluding competitors through regulation and certification. This
was one of the main mechanisms used to lure businesses to sectors of strategic importance, a
method replicated in the apartment sector.
4.3. Outcomes of ABD
From a macroeconomic perspective, a consequence of these policy measures was a marked
increase in the total share of national housing investment in the country’s total output. In the
first half of the 1960s, housing investment was only about 1.7% of the gross national product
(Chang, 1994, p. 79). However, it became 3.9% in the early 1970s and 5.2% in late 1970s
(The Bank of Korea, 2004).
These processes contributed to the formation of some of the largest construction firms in
South Korea. No apartment-specialist builder was among the top 100 Korean firms in 1965.
By 1984, however, Hanyang ranked twentieth, Samho seventy-third, and Life seventy-fourth
(Lim, 2005, p. 88). Many of these major builders used their apartment construction profits to
diversify their businesses, becoming new conglomerates. For instance, Sam’ik Jutaeg
established subsidiaries in shipping, distribution, and furniture. Life also grew quickly since
its establishment in 1975, adding business subsidiaries (banking, securities, footwear, a golf
course, and a hotel) to become a major conglomerate by the early 1980s (Dong-a Ilbo, 1984).
Hanbo Jutaeg, which built an enormous high-rise apartment estate (4,424 units) in Daechi-
dong, Gangnam District, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, added trading, lumber, mining,
leisure, textile, and eventually steel to its business portfolio, becoming one of the top 30
conglomerates in Korea by the end of the 1980s. Some of these successful specialist firms
went bankrupt during the real-estate downturn in later years, but that did not mean that ABD
In return for such preferential treatment, certified firms were required to supply at least 1,000
housing units annually to help meet government targets for annual housing provision.
through apartment building vaporized. The assets of bankrupt companies were picked up at a
low price by the companies that survived the downturn, contributing to their further
accumulationa process Harvey included as another means of ABD.
Mergers and acquisitions of construction firms by the subsidiaries of large businesses also
enabled construction firms to grow, allowing them to participate in the construction of large-
scale apartment estates in the 1980s. As noted earlier, the South Korean developmental state
is known for using large businesses or chaebols like the state’s arms, rewarding conforming
behavior and sanctioning nonconforming behavior (Castells, 1992; Park, 1998; Woo-
Cumings, 1999; Chibber, 2003). Their construction firms grew in size, initially aided by their
participation in state-funded infrastructure projects (e.g., hydraulic dams, expressways, and
power plants). From the 1970s onward, however, the construction subsidiaries of chaebols
became major actors, as medium- and high-rise apartment estates became the preferred mode
of housing among the middle class. (Kim and Choi, 2015)
Hyundai is the best example of this. Having been a key player in the nation’s postKorean
War reconstruction, carrying out major infrastructure projects, it grew even larger by
participating in overseas construction markets, especially in Vietnam in the 1960s and the
Middle East in the 1970s (see also Glassman and Choi, 2014). Subsequently, as the
government began to actively consider the policy of designating apartment zones, the
domestic housing market, especially in the apartment sector, became one of the
conglomerate’s main business areas. Its construction subsidiary, Hyundai Engineering and
Construction Co. (HDEC), set up a subsidiary called Hangug Doshi Gaebal in 1976 to build
and sell apartments. A major focus area was the Apgujeong apartment zone discussed earlier.
5. Conclusion
This study sheds light on the politico-economic origins of South Korea’s high-rise residential
landscape, and in doing so, how ABD manifests itself under the specific form of the state.
This landscape of ‘vertical accumulation’ (Shin, 2011) began in Gangnam in the 1970s as
part of the state’s efforts to address the housing shortage in Seoul. Once the construction of
Gangnam apartment zones neared completion, similar methods were applied to greenfield
developments and even to urban renewal sites (Ha, 1994; Shin, 2009). Other cities followed
suit, creating their own versions of Gangnam. Examples include those in small cities such as
Yongsang-dong in Andong, as well as those in major cities such as Yusong in Daejeon,
Susong in Daegu, and Haeundae in Pusan (Hwang, 2016). In the 1990s, the same model was
even applied to rural housing. Government measures in the 1970s determined how high-rise
apartments were produced. Such production was made possible by the strategically planned
interventions of the South Korean developmental state in the housing sector, with large
business conglomerates serving as the state’s junior partners.
These empirical findings bring us to this study’s main theoretical contribution: specifically,
the way ABD unfolds is strongly influenced by the characteristics of the state. That is, the
way the state created Gangnam reflects the very nature of the South Korean developmental
state. First, state ABD actions in residential development were similar to ABD in the heavy
and chemical industries during the 1970s. Headed by President Park, who came to power
through a military coup in 1961, the South Korean state aimed to gain legitimacy by leading
the nation’s industrialization. For economic growth, Korea picked strategically important
sectors (e.g., heavy and chemical industries in the 1970s) but did not use its own resources to
develop those sectors. Instead, the resource-stricken state lured large business conglomerates
to those sectors by offering opportunities for ABD through the privatization of public assets
and the deprivation of consumers through trade barriers, among other measures. While the
concept of ABD has rarely been used in the literature, the state’s industrial policies for ABD
are well documented in developmental state literature (e.g., Amsden, 1989).
The way apartments were built in Gangnam during the 1970s was similar to the process of
industrialization. All policy measures discussed in this paper offered an oligopolistic position
to the biggest players in the construction industry. This finding is similar to the findings of
Yoon’s (1994) study of the 1980s construction industry. Under these circumstances, in the
construction and housing sectors, selected builders were elevated to big firms, rendering them
capable of carrying out the large-scale mass production of high-rise apartment estates during
the 1980s.
Second, the level of resistance to ABD was low compared to the enclosure movement and
many ABD cases in the developing world. Harvey (2003) argues that dispossessing the
means of living tends to create unfocused but highly intense resistance. As noted in other
literature, dispossessing private use rights (e.g., family homes) also has the potential to be
highly violent. However, the dispossession of public use rights for waterfront spaces in
Gangnam during the apartment construction process was less likely to meet with strong
resistance from citizens. The weak resistance that ensued was also related to the way the
developmental state acquired legitimacy. The South Korean state offered almost no social
security measures, except for civil servants and a few other selected professional groups.
Individuals regarded personal income increases, family savings, and investments in their
children’s education as private means of social security. That view was not completely
unreasonable as the economy quickly grew. With this view, people could overlook the state’s
special treatment of large business conglomerates since those conglomerates were regarded
as the main drivers of economic growth. Similarly, the state’s housing policy offered little for
low-income households, but people still overlooked ABD, even if the resulting apartments
were mainly for the successful middle class. People had hoped that anyone could soon obtain
an apartment by working hard and saving, a strategy that actually worked for some.
Finally, typical ABD in the developing world did not always result in a general accumulation
of capital. Instead, ABD often gave away valuable resources to multinational firms or
inefficient domestic firms that had connections with the state. Meanwhile, urban ABD in
South Korea created market competition, albeit oligopolistic competition as opposed to
neoclassical competition with numerous suppliers. This difference furthers our understanding
of the nature of the developmental state. Unlike many other states in the developing world,
South Korea had a clear aimproviding housing for the middle classand ABD was
subordinate to this aim. The state offered housing developers an oligopolistic position,
contributing to the formation of big firms in the sector. This process is compatible with the
emerging evolutionary view of developmental states (Lee, 1999; Sonn, 2007; see also
Doucette and Park, 2019). According to this view, prevalent among Marxists in South Korea,
the economic plans and outcomes were in large part a response to the state’s attempt to adjust
to the external environment, as opposed to rational decisions made by wise politicians and
Both authors acknowledge the support from the National Research Foundation of Korea
Grant, funded by the Korean Government (NRF-2017S1A3A2066514). The authors also
thank Nik Heynen and anonymous reviewers for their constructive critiques as well as
members of audience at various seminars and conferences where the arguments of this paper
were developed. The usual disclaimer applies.
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Avebury: Aldershot
JUNG WON SONN is Lecturer in Urban and Regional Economic Development at Bartlett
School of Planning, University College London, Fifth Floor Central House 14 Upper Woburn
Place London WC1H 0NN, UK. E-mail: His research interest includes
state theory, national territorial planning in East Asia, and technological innovations and
regional economic development.
HYUN BANG SHIN is Professor of Geography and Urban Studies and the Director of Saw
Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre at the London School of Economics and Political Science,
London WC2A 2AE, UK. E-mail: He is also Eminent Scholar of
Geography at Kyung Hee University, Seoul, South Korea. His research centres on the critical
analysis of the political economic dynamics of urbanization, the politics of redevelopment
and displacement, gentrification, housing, the right to the city, and megaevents as urban
spectacles, with particular attention to Asian cities.
... The role of the state seems to be implicit in such appropriation of the wetland area for consumption, as exclusive private property rights would then drive up the real estate value of that area. This is somewhat similar to the case of reclamation of floodplains by the state in Gangnam, Seoul to facilitate the growth of high-rise apartments by private developers, as discussed by Sonn and Shin (2020). ...
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With urbanisation advancing at a rapid pace, it becomes imperative to analyse the process of urban planning and governance with regard to the creation of urban spaces. The dichotomy between urban commons and public space creates an interesting distinction in how urban space is conceptualised. This paper focuses on the urban commons (here, wetlands) in Guwahati city, the gateway city in the Northeastern region of India, which have been converted from community spaces to "public spaces" and are continuing to undergo this transition for its overall development. However, this conversion has led to increased privatisation and regulation of these urban commons which are designed to cater to a specific class of citizens. This paper draws on the experience of the wetlands within the city and discusses the impact of urban planning on them to bring forth the debilitating condition of the city"s urban commons. It also elaborates on the process of conversion of urban commons into public spaces and analyses the exclusionary form of governance that emanates from the rubric of urban development for the "public".
... Geographers and planners did notice the spatial dimensions of economic growth in East Asia but treated it in an ad hoc manner. Many find the literature on the developmental state useful (for example, Hill and Kim, 2000;Hsu, 2004;Lee and Tee, 2009;Park, 2008;Shin, Park, and Sonn, 2015;Sonn and Shin, 2020), but their studies treat spatial policies as one of the developmental states' actions and focus on the manner in which the characteristics of developmental states are reflected in urban and regional policies. They do not illuminate the fact that spatial planning constitutes one of the fundamental characteristics of a developmental state. ...
Developmental state literature almost completely neglects the fact that one of the unique features of the developmental state is its capacity to reorganize its territory, and the literature on the Chinese developmental state repeats the same oversight. Against this backdrop, this study attempts to retheorize China's spatial planning from a developmental state perspective. In light of the theoretical discussion in this study, we argue that the developmentalist spatial planning has five main characteristics of the developmentalist spatial planning: 1) The state sees its territory as a means of production, not as a living environment. 2) Industrial location policies were market-conforming. 3) The spatial planning was controlled or strongly influenced by the elite economic agency that formulates industrial policies and guides the market. 4) The bureaucracy is more or less insulated from local growth coalitions. 5) Spatial planning creates rather than responds to economic changes. These five characteristics are apparent in China’s spatial planning as much as in South Korea’s.
... Geographers and planners did notice the spatial dimensions of economic growth in East Asia but treated it in an ad hoc manner. Many find the literature on the developmental state useful (for example, Hill and Kim, 2000;Hsu, 2004;Lee and Tee, 2009;Park, 2008;Shin et al., 2015;Sonn and Shin, 2020), but their studies treat spatial policies as one of the developmental states' actions and focus on the manner in which the characteristics of developmental states are reflected in urban and regional policies. They do not illuminate the fact that spatial planning constitutes one of the fundamental characteristics of a developmental state. ...
Full-text available
Developmental state literature almost completely neglects the fact that one of the unique features of the developmental state is its capacity to reorganize its territory, and the literature on the Chinese developmental state repeats the same oversight. Against this backdrop, this study attempts to retheorize China's spatial planning from a developmental state perspective. In light of the theoretical discussion in this study, we argue that the developmentalist spatial planning has five main characteristics of the developmentalist spatial planning: 1) The state sees its territory as a means of production, not as a living environment. 2) Industrial location policies were market-conforming. 3) The spatial planning was controlled or strongly influenced by the elite economic agency that formulates industrial policies and guides the market. 4) The bureaucracy is more or less insulated from local growth coalitions. 5) Spatial planning creates rather than responds to economic changes. These five characteristics are apparent in China's spatial planning as much as in South Korea's.
... David Harvey (2007) elaborates the theory of accumulation by spoliation, whereby the capitalist system seeks, through any possible means including spoliation, to generate value and profit. Morozov (2018), Sonn and Shin (2020), Thatcher, O'Sullivan, and Mahmoudi (2016), Bruno et al. (2018), make valid arguments for the understanding that these surveillance technologies are a business model, a market in which this logic of accumulation by spoliation is the rule. Sonn and Lee (2020), state that "When big data companies collect data with or without an individual's approval and use that data for their profit, it is hard to argue that the state should not use the same data for the safety and security of people." ...
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With the global pandemic of COVID-19 completing one year, this paper intends to analyse the perceptions of public transport users about the implementation of smart city technologies. Two aspects were analysed, namely: the perception of safety regarding the use of surveillance technologies in the containment of the virus; and the perception of safety of the same technologies regarding data protection and privacy. After the identification and choice of initiatives in smart cities to be addressed, a questionnaire was prepared and made available online, in which 414 replies were considered for the final analysis, respecting the proportionality of the percentage of replies in each region to the respective population percentage. In general, technologies provide a great sense of security regarding the use of public transportation. However, they cause concern regarding data protection and privacy. From this result and with analyses in relation to the regulation of personal data, international experiences and the Brazilian reality were contrasted.
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Urban environments, permeated by a concomitance of internal and external factors, are increasingly subject to a standardization, logically averse to authenticity. This study proposes to conduct an analysis, in the context of smart cities, of the concept of "aura" worked by Walter Benjamin and the liquid surveillance in the form of Zygmunt Bauman's post-panoptic. We sought to identify in urban development strategies and plans, as well as in politics and relations within the city, the destruction of "aura" and the intensification of control and liquid surveillance. At the end, it indicates possible developments of the current paradigms and issues to be investigated by future research in the area.
This chapter argues that two variables should be considered in deciding the location of an industrial hub: 1) whether the industries in the hub require heavy infrastructure; and 2) whether workers and their families need a full urban environment. The second is as important as the first because a hub without a living environment that fits the needs of the workers and their families will have trouble attracting and retaining workers. Focusing on these two variables, we propose a two-by-two matrix with four ideal types of industrial hubs. They are: 1) industrial annex of metropolis; 2) industrial town; 3) metropolitan-immersed industrial hub; and 4) new industrial city. For each of these types, a South Korean example is provided.
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This article seeks to contribute to the argument that Ecological Urbanism is a movement or a valid concept to promote resilience, sustainability and a socio-environmental diversity that values localities, presenting a resistance to hegemonic processes and patterns of a globalized urbanism. In this sense, a literature review and analysis was carried out regarding ecological urbanism itself, as well as the metabolic rift, in order to contribute to its ecological aspect and the phantasmagoria to approach its urban side. Defending the use of historical materialism in the analysis of urban space and the city, as well as the social, political, cultural and economic relations that permeate urban ecologies.
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This study is to verify that apartment complexes influence social capital in Seoul. We collected the proportion of apartment complexes in autonomous districts and social capital variables such as cooperation with neighbors, community trust, and altruism of vulnerable people through the Seoul survey data for five years. The main results are as follows. First, as the ratio of apartment complexes increased, the level of social capital of community residents around the apartment decreased. In other words, the higher the proportion of area occupied by apartment complexes, which are gated communities in South Korea, the lower the level of social capital of the local community. Second, as the ratio of apartment complexes increased, the level of social capital of apartment complex residents increased. That is, as the area ratio of apartment complexes increased, the social capital level of the community residents decreased, while the social capital level of apartment complex residents generally increased. Third, as the size of the apartment complex grew, the negative impact on the social capital of residents in the community increased. It means that as the size of the apartment complex increased to 500 and 1000 households, the extent of the decline in social capital increased.
This article brings together a critical analysis of contemporary vertical urbanism with literature on class processes and sociocultural geographies of home. It examines how hotel imaginaries in high-rise real estate work to reshape and reinforce class distinction and discusses the implications for home and belonging in the city. The argument is developed through an analysis of two recently built apartment developments in Australia, with particular attention to developers’ and residents’ narratives. Vertical urbanization stands in contrast to Australia’s predominantly low-density metropolitan regions, at odds with the “Great Australian Dream” of a suburban stand-alone house. Hotel-inspired features, spaces, discourses, and practices enable middle-class apartment residents to forego an entrenched sense of what home and belonging in the city mean while reaffirming residents’ social distinction aspirations and developers’ financialization strategies. Within this context, developers, architects, and residents take inspiration from hotels to normalize apartment living, tapping into residents’ self-identification as well-traveled, cosmopolitan citizens. We show that the set of relations and encounters arising from the blurring of hotels and homes destabilizes tenure categories and redraws classed boundaries around narratives of transience, estrangement, and placelessness. We conclude by discussing the role of hotel imaginaries in the exacerbation of sociospatial divisions and urban inequalities.
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Slum and land have a dialectical relationship. A land that is a slum embodies a filthy and dirty territory that hinders the aesthetic competitiveness of a global city. On the other hand, a slum as a land opens opportunities for multiple uses that promise resurrection of world-class ambition. However, in a situation of tight regulation, informal habitations are often could not be forcefully evicted for this dream to come true. In such an event more conciliatory, yet shrewd, practices are adopted to appropriate land from the informally residing community. A number of tools ply to get the work done, among which geography, cartography, and manipulation of statutory laws are more prominent. Taking Kolkata as a case, I wish to situate ongoing appropriation of central urban land as mediated by these three factors. In Kolkata, while forceful evictions take place on informally occupied land both at the fringe and the central part of the city with vague statutory laws, in the tightly regulated central part of the city, appropriation replaces expropriation, accompanied by a more regular invocation of slum in policy and governmental discourses. The study adds to the dispossession literature by underscoring the role of mediating factors in appropriating the central urban land that could not be coercively expropriated, yet needed for claiming a slot in the world-class city register.
People around the world are confused and concerned. Is it a sign of strength or of weakness that the US has suddenly shifted from a politics of consensus to one of coercion on the world stage? What was really at stake in the war on Iraq? Was it all about oil and, if not, what else was involved? What role has a sagging economy played in pushing the US into foreign adventurism? What exactly is the relationship between US militarism abroad and domestic politics? These are the questions taken up in this compelling and original book. In this closely argued and clearly written book, David Harvey, one of the leading social theorists of his generation, builds a conceptual framework to expose the underlying forces at work behind these momentous shifts in US policies and politics. The compulsions behind the projection of US power on the world as a "new imperialism" are here, for the first time, laid bare for all to see.
Neoliberalism--the doctrine that market exchange is an ethic in itself, capable of acting as a guide for all human action--has become dominant in both thought and practice throughout much of the world since 1970 or so. Writing for a wide audience, David Harvey, author of The New Imperialism and The Condition of Postmodernity, here tells the political-economic story of where neoliberalization came from and how it proliferated on the world stage. Through critical engagement with this history, he constructs a framework, not only for analyzing the political and economic dangers that now surround us, but also for assessing the prospects for the more socially just alternatives being advocated by many oppositional movements.
We cannot hope to formulate adequate development theory and policy for the majority of the world's population who suffer from underdevelopment without first learning how their past economic and social history gave rise to their present underdevelopment. Yet most historians study only the developed metropolitan countries and pay scant attention to the colonial and underdeveloped lands. For this reason most of our theoretical categories and guides to development policy have been distilled exclusively from the historical experience of the European and North American advanced capitalist nations. This article can also be found at the Monthly Review website, where most recent articles are published in full. Click here to purchase a PDF version of this article at the Monthly Review website.