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Migrant workers' citizenship positionality in contemporary China

Jakimów, Małgorzata (2021) 'Migrant workers' citizenship positionality in contemporary China.', in The Routledge Handbook of Chinese Citizenship. London: Routledge.


This chapter discusses the interconnected nature of the institutional, discursive and spatial characteristics of migrant workers’ citizenship positioning in relation to the rural–urban divide. Institutionally, the rural–urban divide has been entrenched through the hukou system, which limits access to rights of citizenship of rural migrants in urban China. Discursively, rural migrants have been portrayed to be in need of transformation into desired kind of citizens, that is educated, modern and urban individuals, a narrative stemming from both the indigenous suzhi renkou discourse as well as modern understanding of citizenship adopted from the West. Spatially, migrant workers have been excluded from the city through urban redevelopment projects, which delegate them to the city fringes by keeping property prices prohibitively high or unavailable for purchase to non-local hukou holders, as well as direct evictions of rural-hukou-holders from urban spaces. By highlighting the historical developments and modern adjustments and changes within citizenship institutions, discourse and the spatial position of migrants in urban China, the chapter highlights the internal contradictions in state policies of urbanisation and the entrenchment of rural–urban divide in contemporary formulation of citizenship.

Item Type:Book chapter
Full text:Publisher-imposed embargo until 30 May 2023.
(AM) Accepted Manuscript
File format - PDF
Publisher Web site:łgorzata-jakimów
Publisher statement:This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in The Routledge Handbook of Chinese Citizenship on 30 November 2021, available online:
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:14 January 2022
Date of first online publication:30 November 2021
Date first made open access:30 May 2023

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