Sociography of the Shanghai Rotary Club (6): Workplace and residence

Sixth episode in my sociography of the Shanghai Rotary Club. This episode aims to identify the spatial patterns of Rotarians’ workplace and residence in Shanghai. This statistical study serves as a prologue to a more in-depth mapping of Rotarians’ offices and residence, relying on Geographical Information Systems (GIS) tools.

Where did Rotarians live and work in Shanghai?

Over the 1930-1948, all nationalities included, Shanghai Rotarians showed a marked preference for the International Settlement (81%) as a privileged place of both work and residence, as compared to the French Concession (18%) and the Chinese-administered territories (1%).

If we now distinguish between places of work and residence, the attraction for the International Settlement is even more remarkable, especially for workplaces. Indeed, the International Settlement is by far the primary destination for offices (92% vs. 8% in the French Concession and 1% in Chinese territories). The gap tends to reduce, however, when we consider their residence. The French Concession was apparently a little more attractive as a place of residence than of business. 42% of Shanghai Rotarians chose to live in the French Concession, but there were still 56% in the International Settlement (and only 2% in Chinese territories). These figures are rather stable year after year (1930, 1940, 1948).

Let’s have a look at the spatial distribution between office and residence according for the three major national groups – Chinese, American and British Rotarians.

The national origin of Rotarians did not make a great difference in the place they chose for living and doing business. They all followed the general pattern, with only small variations from one group to another. They all selected the International Settlement as their primary locus for both business and residence, irrespective of their nationality: 84% vs 16% for the Chinese, 74% vs. 25% for Americans, 74% vs. 22% for the British.

As for office more specifically, the Chinese revealed a greater preference for the International Settlement (95%), and so did American (93%) and British members to a lesser degree (89%). The contrast sharpens, however, when we consider their place of residence. American Rotarians showed the strongest attraction for the French Concession (49%), as compared to their British (39%) and Chinese fellows (30%). But even so, however, all nationalities preferred to reside in the International Settlement (70% for the Chinese, 54% for the British and 49% for American members).

The next step will consist in mapping more finely Rotarians’ workplace and residence within each settlement (at the district and street level) relying on GIS tools (ArcGis, QGis). We will also investigate whether Rotarians’ occupations and sectors of activities impacted on their choices of residence and workplace.

To be continued…

Cécile Armand

Ancienne élève de l'Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) de Lyon (2006), agrégée d'histoire (2009), docteure en histoire (2017), postdoctorante à Stanford University (2017-8) puis Aix-Marseille Université dans le cadre du projet ERC “Elites, Networks and Power in modern China” (2018-). Ma thèse soutenue à l’ENS Lyon en juin 2017 proposait une histoire spatiale de la publicité à Shanghai (1905-1949). Mon nouveau projet porte sur l’invention du consommateur et de l’expertise sur le marché en Chine républicaine. Au-delà, mes centres d'intérêt couvrent l'histoire urbaine, spatiale et sociale, les outils et méthodes numériques en sciences sociales, l'historiographie et l'épistémologie en général.

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Cécile Armand

Ancienne élève de l'Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) de Lyon (2006), agrégée d'histoire (2009), docteure en histoire (2017), postdoctorante à Stanford University (2017-8) puis Aix-Marseille Université dans le cadre du projet ERC “Elites, Networks and Power in modern China” (2018-). Ma thèse soutenue à l’ENS Lyon en juin 2017 proposait une histoire spatiale de la publicité à Shanghai (1905-1949). Mon nouveau projet porte sur l’invention du consommateur et de l’expertise sur le marché en Chine républicaine. Au-delà, mes centres d'intérêt couvrent l'histoire urbaine, spatiale et sociale, les outils et méthodes numériques en sciences sociales, l'historiographie et l'épistémologie en général.

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