An Overview Of Urban Sociology Sociology Essay Example
An Overview Of Urban Sociology Sociology Essay Example

An Overview Of Urban Sociology Sociology Essay Example

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  • Pages: 10 (2539 words)
  • Published: July 23, 2017
  • Type: Research Paper
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Hong Kong aims to become Asia's World City by blending its colonial history with its Chinese roots. The city's remarkable fusion of Eastern and Western influences is evident in its cultural infrastructure, which includes well-planned and preserved performance venues, museums, and heritage sites. However, the lack of a comprehensive cultural policy and unified vision for development hampers progress in this area. Despite ongoing efforts to promote cultural development in Hong Kong, achieving a holistic approach is challenging due to inadequate policy support and expertise in cultural planning. Currently, the city's cultural policy primarily focuses on issues related to the physical environment such as land allocation for cultural facilities, audience provisions, heritage preservation, and conservation of culture. Unfortunately, these matters are not effectively integrated throughout the planning system at all levels, resulting in inconsistent and disjointed support an


d implementation.

Goals and Objectives

The survey's purpose is to analyze the cultural development in Hong Kong. It aims to explore cultural planning, supporting programs, and policies through analyzing Tai O Revitalization. Additionally, it seeks to examine the results of these strategies for different parts of society. Moreover, this survey aims to enhance understanding of culture and cultural development through literature reviews on cultural planning and examination of the existing Hong Kong policy context influencing cultural development.

Study Methodology

Literature Review

Efforts have been made over the years to define "culture," but it has been found that culture takes various forms and is nearly impossible to comprehensively define. Countries and cities worldwide have become more aware of both their own cultures and global culture.

The various differences in civilization encompass

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local and international, modern and traditional, and high and low civilization. Bianchini and Ghilardi (1997) stress the importance of recognizing that cultural planning is not merely the "planning of civilization," but rather an anthropological approach to urban planning and policy. The intricate relationship between civilization and planning encompasses various aspects, such as the incorporation of culture into social, economic, environmental, and political realms. This includes cultural policies pertaining to social, economic, environmental, and political arenas, the culture embedded in the built environment and urban design, and even the scheduling of activities within the city. The effects of cultural planning extend to cultural tourism, education, leisure, integrating art into the city, the demand for high-quality events and activities, as well as the connections that residents have with their own culture.

Theoretical Model

Concept of Cultural Planning

In discussing the connection between civilization and planning, it is important to acknowledge that cultural planning is not simply the planning of culture, but rather a cultural (anthropological) approach to urban planning and policy (Bianchini & Ghilardi, 1997). The intricate relationship between culture and planning encompasses various aspects, including social, economic, environmental, and political fields. Cultural planning, as defined by De Montfort University in Leicester, involves strategically using cultural resources to promote the integrated development of cities, regions, and cultures (Deffner, 2005, p.127). The concept of cultural planning emerges as a potential response to the cultural challenges brought about by globalization in cities. It challenges conventional approaches to urban development by recognizing the value of local cultural resources. Cultural planning serves as an alternative to both traditional cultural policies and regeneration strategies with a

cultural aspect. Its goal is to address disparities in the spatial distribution of cultural offerings and promote support for local cultural production (Deffner, 2005, p.133).

Traditional cultural policies typically focus on specific areas of cultural activity, such as theater, dance, literature, and trades. In contrast, cultural planning takes a broader approach by considering the impact of culture on overall place development. This includes considering how values and beliefs shape the development of a place. Cultural planning takes into account the development of plans and strategies, involvement of stakeholders, and determining responsibility. It encompasses the public, private, and voluntary sectors, as well as various other institutional concerns, forms of knowledge, and professional disciplines. By doing so, cultural planning has the potential to foster creativity and innovation in cultural production.

According to Bianchini (2004), proponents of the cultural approach to planning argue that policy-makers should not only use cultural resources for non-cultural purposes, but also allow their own perspectives and assumptions to be influenced by the diverse assets of local cultural life. As planning involves managing present and future resources, cultural planning should encompass activities, facilities, and amenities that constitute a society's cultural resources. Cultural resources and their potentials fundamentally contribute to the future of a particular place, where the utilization of such cultural resources through planning could achieve more inclusive and democratic planning, as well as a better understanding of the complexity and causal relationships of the location.

Case Study: Current Policy Context in Hong Kong

Hong Kong's lack of a policy direction indicates a limited cultural vision. Some have raised concerns about how pluralistic cultural development can be safeguarded, as Hong Kong's cultural vision should involve both engaging with

global culture and nurturing local culture simultaneously. Additionally, urban planning strategy and the creation of public spaces are all interconnected with a cultural vision.

The development of cultural and humanistic disciplines in Hong Kong is being mismanaged, with policies being divided among various authorities, sections, and sub-sections. This lack of collaboration within the government and between public and private organizations has led to fragmented and unclear cultural policies. It is essential for the community and businesses in the cultural sector to be actively engaged in the planning process. Although public consultations are conducted during planning, a top-down approach has impeded comprehensive development. Initiatives like cultural auditing and role-playing play a crucial role in evaluating the needs and aspirations of specific communities.

Since the urban council disbanded, there has been a lack of a local authority responsible for cultural development, leading to difficulties in developing cultural programs that meet the needs of the community. In densely populated cities like Hong Kong, communities have diverse cultural demands and aspirations due to their close proximity. It is important for communities to be involved in the cultural planning process from the beginning in order to fully understand the decision-making process. This lack of community engagement has resulted in significant controversy surrounding cultural planning in Hong Kong.

Case Study: Tai O Fisherman Village Revitalization Scheme

To further investigate the role of 'culture' in urban regeneration in Hong Kong, we will examine the local case study of Tai O Fisherman Village Revitalization Scheme. Tai O is a small village located in the southwestern part of Lantau Island.

1) The small town is known as the "Venice of the East" because of its cultural activities, houses on

stilts, and use of the sampan for transportation. Its reputation has attracted visitors from all over. The town offers tourists a glimpse into Hong Kong's cultural heritage in a beautiful natural setting. Consequently, the small town has great potential for tourism development, prompting the government to initiate a revival strategy.

Tai O Revitalization Scheme

The Tai O small town in 1998 was chosen for a 'revitalization ' scheme due to its wide range of cultural and natural attractions. According to the Planning Department (2000), approximately 300,000 tourists visit Tai O annually, with 90 percent of them being Hong Kong residents. The revitalization strategy aims to attract over 600,000 visitors each year, including foreign tourists. As part of this initiative, two folklore museums were built: the Tai O Experience Centre and the Stilted House Experience Centre. These museums are expected to draw both local and international tourists interested in learning about the history of Tai O and its traditional salt industry. Additionally, new features were introduced, including a hand-pulled ferry and a complimentary MP3 guided tour along nearby nature trails.

The authorities have made improvements to the physical environment throughout the country. These improvements include changing information and directional signs, as well as enhancing the gardens at Yeung Hau Temple and Kwan Tai Temple, two important landmarks in the area. Other improvements include the construction of a new pavement, tree planting, and landscaping of the promenade and gardens in the town. Additionally, a boutique hotel is being built on the renovated Old Tai O Police Station, with a cost of HK $66.7 million and an estimated completion date in mid-2011.

Outcomes for

Different Urban Population

Local Residents

The community in Tai O embraces tourism for its economic benefits. However, it is crucial to honor and appreciate the community's desire to preserve the tranquility of their small town and maintain their social connections. The aging population is a major concern, necessitating additional social services for elderly residents. The local population believes that the revitalization plan excessively prioritizes commercial interests without adequately addressing the needs of the community. One significant issue for locals is the demolition of man-made structures to build a river-wall along Tai O Creek. These structures not only serve as homes for Tai O residents but also hold historical importance spanning generations.

The stilted houses in Tai O, consisting of tree bark and a metal bed on top, represent the deep memories of the household. The displaced individuals from the construction of the river-wall are being relocated to nearby public housing estates, which the occupants of the stilted houses are reluctant to do. This is because the elderly residents value the social connections and bonds that have developed among their neighbors in the original small town over the years.


The addition of new attractions like museums, an entryway place, waterfront promenade, and a sheltered boat anchorage has attracted visitors to Tai O. However, there are concerns among visitors about the integration of these new developments into the traditional fishing village without disrupting its fabric. One notable comment is that preserving the culture of Tai O extends beyond simply placing artifacts in museums.

Tourists are interested in witnessing the authentic lives of the villagers who have created this community, rather than visiting

the artifacts in the museums and the artificial lifestyle.

Green Groups

The strategy greatly disappointed green groups. The 'Earth Station' by the Friend of the Earth (FoE) was initially included in the Shek Tsai Po program. This station was intended to serve as an educational center, research facility, and exchange base to showcase Hong Kong's natural renewable energy.

The Station was predicted to attract 35,000 visitors per year, mostly students. However, the Rural Committee demanded support from the FoE for the direct North-South link from Mui Wo to Tai Ho on Lantau Island in exchange for their approval of the Earth Station's construction. The FoE refused and responded by suggesting water transport instead of road transport because road transport would bring more traffic to the island and only benefit real estate developers (SCMP, 2000). Eventually, the government rejected the Committee's proposal. As a result, no green groups like the FoE can implement any educational program in Tai O.

Professional Bodies

In the process of designing the revival strategy, the Hong Kong Institute of Architects (HKIA) initiated a workshop to explore ways to preserve the unique stilted houses and conserve local heritage while revitalizing the local economy through cultural tourism (HKIA, 2001 p.5).

This workshop was significant because it brought together local 'experts', various professional organizations, government officials, and NGOs to reach conclusions. This is a rare occurrence in Hong Kong's top-down planning system. The local community played an active role, and their opinions were of utmost importance. The professionals took a back seat and aided in the

creation of plans and development. Some recommendations, such as the Reconstruction of certain pile houses, were accepted by the authorities.


Lessons to be Learned

While existing planning processes in Hong Kong, such as social and community planning, environmental planning, and management planning, often address issues of cultural relevance, cultural planning aims to ensure that all aspects of cultural life are systematically and comprehensively addressed.

The integration of cultural schemes with broader priorities and goals can enhance cultural services at the territorial level. Therefore, cultural amenities are not separate from everyday life but are essential to people's needs. Cultural planning offers insights into the values and aspirations of a community, and effective implementation of cultural planning ensures that culture is incorporated into local decision-making and the community's aspirations. Community engagement and activity, in any form, allows individuals to understand their surroundings, express their aspirations, and celebrate their uniqueness. This concept is crucial for creating distinctive city and neighborhood environments that have a strong sense of place.

Topographic point devising is going progressively of import with urban regeneration and gentrification. Fostering community wellbeing and spread outing engagement in cultural activities is cardinal to growing and sustainability. Urban development and gentrification have an important impact on the aesthetic and spirit of an country, hence, it is of import to guarantee that countries are designed to complement and heighten the local individuality, every bit good as encourage integrating.

The Way Forward

The first order of concern is to alter the authorities and community's outlook, perceptual experience and apprehension of civilization. Cultural planning does non necessitate to be a separate pattern, so long as civilization in its broadest sense is

taken into consideration throughout assorted be aftering procedures. A vivacious cultural life plays a cardinal function in beef uping citizenship, confirming diverseness and supplying a safe environment where a broad scope of activities can be enjoyed.

An active cultural life contributes tremendously to personal wellbeing and vivacious communities. For the hereafter, Hong Kong needs to admit that it has the necessary elements to be a successful cultural metropolis, and embrace cultural development in all facets.


  1. Bianchini, F., ( 2004 ). A crisis in urban creativeness? Contemplations on the cultural impacts of globalization, and on the potency of urban cultural policies. Paper presented at the International Symposium - The Age of the City: the Challenges for Creative Cities, Osaka. [ Online ]. Available at: hypertext transfer protocol: // [ accessed 23 February 2010 ]
  2. Bianchini, F. , & A ; Ghilardi, S. , ( 1997 ) .

Culture and Vicinities: A Comparative Report. Strasbourg: Council of Europe.

  • Comedia, n.d., (1991). Original Thinking - transforming metropoliss. [Online].
  • Available at: hypertext transfer protocol: // [ accessed 24 February 2010 ]

  • Deffner, A.M., (2005). The Combination of Cultural and Time Planning: A new way for the hereafter of European metropoliss. City, Vol. 9, No.
  • 1. p.125?141. Evans, G. , ( 2001 ) . Cultural Planning: an urban Renaissance? .

    London ; New York: Routledge.

  • Hong Kong Institute of Architects, (2001). Save Tai O Workshop Report. HKIA: Hong Kong
  • Lo, Elizabeth (2008). "Culture and Planning: How can Hong Kong's urban planning system facilitate comprehensive

  • cultural development?". MSc Dissertation, University of Hong Kong.

  • Planning Department, HK Government, (2000). Study on Revitalisation of Tai O: Public Consultation Digest, Hong Kong: Printing Department(2002).
  • Study on Revitalisation of Tai O: Recommended Revitalization Strategy, Hong Kong: Printing Department South China Morning Post, (2000).
  • 'Tai O small towns fear stilt places will travel' South China Morning Post.
  • On April 2nd, 2009, Tai O received a tourism-boosting facelift, as reported in The Standard (pp. 4). Another article in The Standard on July 23rd (pp. 7) also discusses this topic.

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