Accumulation without Dispossession? Land Commodification and Rent Extraction in Peri-urban China

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


The urbanization of rural China is increasingly achieved not through physical land grabs but the strategic enrolment of rural communities in the commodification of land via speculative rentiership. This article critically examines this shift in approach from the deployment of extra-economic force in state-led land expropriations toward an increasing reliance on market mechanisms in land development. A case study, the construction of a financial district in peri-urban Guangzhou, shows that the enrolment of village communities is achieved through their cooptation as corporatist market players in regimes of rent-based accumulation. While the apparent use of voluntaristic market exchange has reduced the need for coercion, however, the commodification process has at the same time created new terrain for dispossessory practices whereby value is illicitly extracted and seized by elites through rent relations. The shift from overt land grabbing to more covert mechanisms of value appropriation has important implications for rural class relations and contentious politics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)633-648
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Urban and Regional Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2019


  • accumulation by dispossession
  • China
  • Guangzhou
  • land commodification
  • urbanization
  • value grabbing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Urban Studies


Dive into the research topics of 'Accumulation without Dispossession? Land Commodification and Rent Extraction in Peri-urban China'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this