The Bartlett School of Planning


Meiling Wu

Research subject

Second Home Impacts and Community Development in China

Primary supervisor: Professor Nick Gallent
Secondary supervisor: Dr Iqbal Hamiduddin
Sponsor: Elites Scholarship Council
Starting date: September 2018
Completion date: March 2023

Having a second home has evolved into a fashionable leisure style. An increasing number of seasonal residents not only manage to consume rural space, but also try to create social meanings through the building of connections with local people. The new pattern of residence acts as a social lubricant role in forming community bonds, extending network boundaries and even generating new social capital for host communities. Second homes, in the form of new money, have reshaped social fabric of rural areas in the global and counter-urbanization context.

However, traditional narrative of second home impacts has broadly focused on direct economic blessing as well as social curse. Social contributions and values have been negligible for many decades. With the relocation in debates on mobility, identity, belonging, social capital of second homes, new perspectives are strongly necessary to further discuss community and development impacts of second home use and buying.

This research aims to explore how second home buying and use impact on the development of host communities in China. Based on this, the research is seeking to understand what extent second home use might be viewed as an endogenous development opportunity through the lens of social capital, versus an exogenous contribution to development delivered solely through spending and tax contributions. A converted second-home village of Gangmen and a purpose-built village of Xingfu are chosen as the cases. This research is going to use participant observation, semi-structured interview and diary writing methods to collect the data. Official and non-official documents will be also collected for supplementary analysis. Critical discourse analysis will be performed to analyse the primary data and secondary data.

The findings could not only contribute to building a fluid framework of impacts of endogenous and exogenous development generated by second homes, but also broadly engage with debates on hyper-consumption, counter-urbanization and coastal and rural restructuring in China.


Before joining BSP, she received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in tourism management from Sun Yat-sen University in 2015 and 2018 respectively. During her master study, she developed her interest in the relation between tourism management and post-disaster reconstruction and completed her master thesis which was titled “Tourism Community Resilience and Social Capital in the Context of Post-disaster Reconstruction: the Case of Taoping.”