Journal of Housing and the Built Environment

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 545–564 | Cite as

Everyday life patterns and social segregation of expatriate women in globalizing Asian cities: cases of Shanghai and Seoul



Shanghai’s ‘planned’ and Seoul’s ‘evolved’ expatriate communities represent contrasting approaches to housing the highly skilled professionals and their families. The study shows how the two distinctive environments produce different spatial patterns in everyday life, and also how they affect the social segregation of the expatriate women in the two cities. Shanghai’s gated compound entails an introverted, self-contained lifestyle with little contact with the local people. Seoul’s naturally evolved community is integrated with local neighborhoods leading to the wider range of daily destinations and more everyday contact with local people. Although the inter-expat social relations appear stronger within Shanghai’s walled residential areas, the daily interaction with host city locals is more pronounced in Seoul’s mixed foreign quarters. The study suggests that, among expats and locals, residential form which allows small-scale, everyday routine social interactions may be more conducive to building a sense of community in increasingly globalizing Asian urban centers.


Everyday life patterns Social segregation Expatriate women Shanghai Seoul Asian cities Gated compound Naturally evolved community 


  1. Arieli, D. (2007). The task of being content: Expatriate wives in Beijing, emotional work and patriarchal bargain. Journal of International Women’s Studies, 8(4), 18–31.Google Scholar
  2. Beaverstock, J. V. (2002). Transnational elites in global cities: British expatriates in Singapore’s financial district. Geoforum, 33, 525–538.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Beaverstock, J. V. (2005). Transnational elites in the city: British highly-skilled inter-company transferees in New York City’s financial district. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 31(2), 245–268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beaverstock, J. V. (2011). Servicing British expatriate ‘talent’ in Singapore: Exploring ordinary transnationalism and the role of the ‘expatriate’ club. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 37(5), 709–728.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Black, J. S., & Gregersen, H. B. (1991). The other half of the picture: Antecedents of spouse cross-cultural adjustment. Journal of International Business Studies, 22(3), 461–477.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Castells, M. (1996). The rise of the network society. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  7. Cohen, E. (1977). Expatriate communities. Current Sociology, 24(5), 5–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Conradson, D., & Latham, A. (2005). Transnational urbanism: Attending to everyday practices and mobilities. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 31(2), 227–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. DiPrete, T. A., Gelman, A., McCormick, T., Teitler, J., & Zheng, T. (2011). Segregation of social networks based on acquaintanceship and trust. American Journal of Sociology, 116(4), 1234–1283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Douglass, M. (2002). From global intercity competition to cooperation for livable cities and economic resilience in Pacific Asia. Environment and Urbanization, 14(1), 53–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dunn, K. (2010). Guest editorial: Embodied transnationalism: Bodies in transnational spaces. Population, Space and Place, 16, 1–9.Google Scholar
  12. Fainstein, S. S., Gordon, I., & Harloe, M. (Eds.). (1992). Divided cities: New York and London in the contemporary world. Oxford; Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  13. Findlay, A. M., Li, F. L. N., Jowett, A. J., & Skeldon, R. (1996). Skilled international migration and the global city: A study of expatriates in Hong Kong. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 21(1), 49–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Florida, R. (2002). The rise of the creative class: And how it’s transforming work, leisure, community and everyday life. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  15. Friedmann, J. (1998). The world city hypothesis. Development and Change, 17, 69–84 (reprinted In P. Knox & P. Taylor (Eds.) World cities in a world system, 317–331. New York: Cambridge University Press.).Google Scholar
  16. Gatti, E. (2009). Defining the expat: The case of high-skilled migrants in Brussels. Brussels Studies, 28(31), 1–15.Google Scholar
  17. Gaubatz, P. (1999). China’s urban transformation: Patterns and processes of morphological change in Beijing. Shanghai and Guangzhou. Urban Studies, 36(9), 1495–1521.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Granovetter, M. S. (1973). The strength of weak ties. The American Journal of Sociology, 78(6), 1360–1380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Greenbaum, S. D. (1982). Bridging ties at the neighborhood level. Social Networks, 4, 367–384.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Ha, S., Ma, K., & Ahn, A. (2011). Seoulsi oegukin jugeojieu gongganjeok bulipatterne gwanhan yeongu (A study on the residential segregation patterns of foreign population in Seoul). Seouldosieyeongu, 12(3), 91–105. (In Korean).Google Scholar
  21. Harvey, M. (1998). Dual-career couples during international relocation: The trailing spouse. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 9(2), 309–331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Henning, C., & Lieberg, M. (1996). Strong ties or weak ties? Neighborhood networks in a new perspective. Scandinavian Housing and Planning Research, 13(3), 3–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kim, E. M., & Kang, J. S. (2007). Seoul as a global city with ethnic villages. Korea Journal, 47(4), 64–99.Google Scholar
  24. Knox, P. (1996). Globalization and the world city hypothesis. Scottish Geographical Magazine, 112(2), 124–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kofman, E. (2000). Invisibility of skilled female migrants and gender relations in studies of skilled migration in Europe. International Journal of Population Geography, 6(1), 45–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kofman, E., & Raghuram, P. (2005). Editorial - Gender and skilled migrants: Into and beyond the work place. Geoforum, 36(2), 149–154.Google Scholar
  27. Kupka, B., & Cathro, V. (2007). Desperate housewives—Social and professional isolation of German expatriated spouses. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 18(6), 951–968.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Ley, D. (2004). Transnational spaces and everyday lives. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 29, 151–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Leyden, K. M. (2003). Social capital and the built environment: The importance of walkable neighborhoods. American Journal of Public Health, 93(9), 1546–1551.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Marcuse, P. (1997). The enclave, the citadel, and the ghetto: What has changed in the post-Fordist US city. Urban Affairs Review, 33(2), 228–264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Marcuse, P., & van Kempen, R. (2000). Globalizing cities: A new spatial order?. Oxford: Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Marshall, R. (2003). Emerging urbanity: Global urban projects in the Asia Pacific Rim. New York: Spon Press.Google Scholar
  33. Miao, P. (2003). Deserted streets in a jammed town: The gated community in Chinese cities and its solution. Urban Design, 8(1), 45–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Olds, K. (1997). Globalizing Shanghai: The ‘Global Intelligence Corps’ and the building of Pudong. Cities, 14(2), 109–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Park, B. G. (2005) Spatially selective liberalization and graduated sovereignty: Politics of neo-liberalism and "special economic zones" in South Korea. Political Geography, 24, 850–873.Google Scholar
  36. Park, S. H. (2010). Hangukeu oegukin miljibjiyeok: yeoksajeok hyungseunggwajeonggwa sahwegonggwanjeok byeonhwa (Ethnic places in South Korea: Historical development and socio-spatial transformation). Journal of the Korean Urban Administration Association, 23(1), 69–100.Google Scholar
  37. Park, S. H., Lee, Y. A., Kim, E. L., Jung, S. Y. (2009). Damunhwasahoee daeheunghaneun dosijeongchaek yeongu(I): oegukin miljibjiyeokui hyeonhwanggwa jeongchaekgwaje (Reinventing Urban Policy in Response to Ethnic Diversity: A Report on Emerging Ethnic Places in South Korea). (Seoul: Korea Research Institute Research Report 2009-19).Google Scholar
  38. Pow, C. P. (2011). Living it up: Super-rich enclave and transnational elite urbanism in Singapore. Geoforum, 42(3), 382–393.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Pow, C. P., & Kong, L. (2007). Marketing the Chinese dream house: Gated communities and representations of the good life in (post-)socialist Shanghai. Urban Geography, 28(2), 129–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Pratt, G., & Yeoh, B. (2003). Transnational (counter) topographies. Gender, Place and Culture, 10(2), 159–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). (2012). Talent mobility 2020 and beyond.
  42. Putnam, R. D. (2000). Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. New York: Simon & Schuster.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Rowe, P. G. (2011). Emergent architectural territories in East Asian cities. Basel: Birkhauser.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Ryan, L. (2011). Migrants’ social networks and weak ties: Accessing resources and constructing relationships post-migration. The Sociological Review, 59(4), 707–724.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Salt, J. (1997). International movements of the highly skilled labor. Paris: OECD, OCDE/GD(97)169.Google Scholar
  46. Sassen, S. (1988). The mobility of labor and capital. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sassen, S. (2000). Cities in a world economy (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Pine Forge Press.Google Scholar
  48. Scott, A. (2006). The social morphology of skilled migration: The case of the British middle class in Paris. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 32(7), 1105–1129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Shaffer, M. A., Harrison, D. A., & Gilley, K. M. (1999). Dimensions, determinants, and differences in the expatriate adjustment process. Journal of International Business Studies, 30(3), 557–581.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Tseng, Y. F. (2011). Shanghai rush: Skilled migrants in a fantasy city. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 37(5), 765–784.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Tung, R. L. (1987). Expatriate assignments: Enhancing success and minimizing failure. Academy of Management Executive, 1(2), 117–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. UNCTAD (2008). Development and globalization: Facts and figures. New York and Geneva: United Nations Publication, UNCTAD/GDS/CSIR/2007/1.Google Scholar
  53. Vaiou, D., & Lykogianni, R. (2006). Women, neighborhoods and everyday life. Urban Studies, 43(4), 731–743.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Vertovec, S. (2002). Transnational networks and skilled labor migration. (Paper presented at Ladenburger Diskurs “Migration”, Gottlieb Daimler- und Karl Benz-Stiftung, Ladenburg. WPPC-02-02).Google Scholar
  55. Wang, J., & Lau, S. S. Y. (2008). Forming foreign enclaves in Shanghai: State action in globalization. Journal of Housing and Built Environment, 23, 103–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Willis, K., & Yeoh, B. (1999). ‘Heart’ and ‘wing’, nation and diaspora: Gendered discourses in Singapore’s regionalization process. Gender, Place and Culture, 6(4), 355–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Willis, K., & Yeoh, B. (2002). Gendering transnational communities: A comparison of Singaporean and British migrants in China. Geoforum, 33, 553–565.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Wu, F., & Webber, K. (2004). The rise of “foreign gated communities” in Beijing: Between economic globalization and local institutions. Cities, 21(3), 203–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Yeoh, B. S. A., & Khoo, L.-M. (1998). Home, work and community: Skilled international migration and expatriate women in Singapore. International Migration, 36(2), 159–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Yeoh, B., & Willis, K. (1999). ‘Heart’ and ‘wing’, nation and diaspora: Gendered discourses in Singapore’s regionalization process. Gender, Place and Culture, 6(4), 355–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Yeoh, B., & Willis, K. (2005a). Singaporean and British transmigrants in China and the cultural politics of ‘contact zones’. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 31(2), 269–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Yeoh, B., & Willis, K. (2005b). Singaporeans in China: Transnational women elites and the negotiation of gendered identities. Geoforum, 36, 211–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Yulong, S., & Hamnet, C. (2002). The potential and prospect for global cities in China: In the context of the world system. Geoforum, 33, 121–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Smart City Science ManagementHongik UniversitySejongKorea
  2. 2.Department of Environmental PlanningSeoul National UniversitySeoulKorea

Personalised recommendations