Seminar: China’s urban villages / medical evidence in homelessness assessments

Our next IHURER Seminar will be:

Linda Cong: ‘Urban villages’ Redevelopments in Weihai- Physical and social changes’

Dr Sarah Johnsen: ‘Reconfiguring knowledge hierarchies? The weighting of medical evidence in homelessness assessments in England

on Wednesday 9th of October at 4.15pm in WA 3.11

You can read the abstracts below:

‘Urban villages’ Redevelopments in Weihai- Physical and social changes’

Under the influence of the rapid urbanization and economic development in China, many cities and towns have doubled or tripled in terms of urban population and urban land extensions. As a result, a large number of traditional rural villages, which were located in the suburban areas of cities, became part of the built up areas. They have been turned into the so-called ‘urban villages’. Recently, thousands of such villages have been demolished and rebuilt every year in nationwide-urban village redevelopment.

The redevelopment of urban village shares the similarities with both urban renewal and urban regeneration but it is also different from them. Urban villages’ redevelopments in China do not only take place in the urban areas but also in suburban areas. Redevelopment of urban village involves of different social groups of urban villagers, and raises concerns about their social welfare and local health provision, their employment situation, and also issues about the local environment. However, the general drive for urban and economic development has caused the rebuilding of the village and, as a result, local administrations have to follow the changes.

A case study approach is used to address the research questions, and the city of Weihai has chosen to be the case study city. Weihai is a third line prefecture-level city and governed by Shandong provincial government. This paper aims to analyse the local physical and social changes by examining the redevelopment of urban villages as a whole. It presents the background of local urban villages, and find out the differences of local urban villages from the experience in super large and large cities. It discusses about the reasons that caused the redevelopment, key players of the redevelopment, and how the redevelopment is organized and what happened to the redevelopment process.

Reconfiguring knowledge hierarchies? The weighting of medical evidence in homelessness assessments in England

This paper examines the ways in which homelessness officers weigh up multiple (and sometimes conflicting) forms of medical evidence when assessing whether an applicant is ‘vulnerable’ on grounds of ill health under the English homelessness legislation.  Drawing upon case file analyses and interviews with homelessness officers in three local authorities, it documents how they assess each according to its: perceived ‘authority’ (i.e. professional credentials and knowledge of the case); assumed ‘objectivity’ (i.e. independence); and consonance with their professional intuition regarding the case’s ‘legitimacy’ (i.e. truth or falsity of the applicant’s narrative and claim to vulnerability).  Homelessness officers’ lack of deference to medical opinion challenges the common presumption that medical expertise is automatically or unequivocally accorded a privileged position in ‘knowledge hierarchies’. Furthermore, the findings depart from most accounts of street-level bureaucrats’ role in welfare allocation, given that homelessness officers did not prioritise moral judgements of the ‘desert’ of applicants, but rather legal assessments of their ‘entitlement’.

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