The City within the City: A Glimpse of Elite Formation in Deptford, London and Dadaocheng, Taipei

Alsford, Niki Joseph paul orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-1939-4313 (2019) The City within the City: A Glimpse of Elite Formation in Deptford, London and Dadaocheng, Taipei. Journal of Urban History, 47 (1). ISSN 0096-1442

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The turn of the twentieth century witnessed a significant expansion of both Deptford in southeast London and the market town of Dadaocheng in northern Taiwan. A factor that unites the two can arguably be found in both historically avoiding becoming part of the cities to which they now belong. The collective desire of their more well-to-do residents to shape an urban modern space that could fit their aspirations transcended national boundaries. Defined as the “urban elite,” the more notable residents were both globally situated and connected. They lived in a modernity that was self-defined and interpreted, one that was differentiated across a range of institutions: family life, economic and political structures, education, mass communication, and individual orientation. The purpose of this article, therefore, is to argue that these arenas should be understood as a narrative of continual design and redesign. What is more, they were essentially marshaled by a rising new urban middle class. The fortunes that they acquired were a result of their connections to the town they helped mold and transform. Using social elite theory, this article will argue that if the social, economic, and political conditions across areas are similar, people will behave in comparable ways with only contextual differences. In the case of Taiwan, attention to this overlooked aspect of its social history is important in helping to situate the island in global comparisons.

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