Despite the massive forced relocation of residents during urban restructuring in China, there are no systematic studies on how residents undergo the process. Most studies concerning urban restructuring in China directly equate forced relocation with displacement, which has a negative connotation. This negative view overlooks the multifaceted effects of forced relocation on relocatees. This paper aims to develop a critical understanding of the forced relocation of residents during urban restructuring in China. It takes forced relocation to be a process with changing contents over time, and as a specific type of residential mobility that occurs in the context of urban restructuring. This paper presents a conceptual model that includes different stages and contexts to analyse the experiences of relocatees during forced relocation. It divides the process of forced relocation into three stages – the pre-demolition stage, the transitional stage and the post-relocation stage – and investigates the social, economic, physical, psychological and behavioural dimensions of the experiences of relocatees at the macro and micro levels. We argue that forced relocation in urban China is not necessarily equivalent to displacement. Studying the experiences of relocatees from the household and residential mobility perspectives reveals the dynamic, variable and complex nature of forced relocation.
experience of relocatees forced relocation urban restructuring displacement residential mobility China