Spatial polarization of population groups as reflected by the formation of affluent residences and immigrant villages is a new development in Chinese cities. In the existing literature, these new formations are attributable to market forces associated with the increasing income disparities between the elites and the poor. By using a county town in Shandong Province as a case study, this paper examines the role of danwei ñ a multifaceted institution which has itself been reformed drastically ñ in shaping the spatial organization of Chinaís urban settlements. Data were collected from field reconnaissance interviews and satellite images. Analyses reveal four distinctive housing forms/clusters in the study area, each of which offers very different quality of living. These housing clusters are integrated by a filtering process in the housing market; they also serve as seed-sites for developing certain neighbourhood characteristics (such as security concerns). In most cases, those tenants who are associated with good danwei are found in ìgoodî housing; those who are associated with bad danwei are found in ìbadî housing; and those who are not associated with any danwei are found in ìuglyî housing. The possession and capitalization of administrative power and financial resources by the various danwei institutions are critical factors in shaping the new urban space in post-reform China.