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Growth of rural migrant enclaves in Guangzhou, China: agency, everyday practice and social mobility

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Author(s)

Ye Liu, Zhigang Li, Yuqi Liu, Hongsheng Chen

Abstract

Previous studies have attributed the proliferation of rural migrant enclaves in China's large cities primarily to the constraints limiting migrants' residential options. Through an ethnographic exploration of Xiaohubei, a migrant enclave with a high concentration of Hubei rural migrants and small-scale garment producers in Guangzhou, this paper sheds new light on the dynamics and implications of the migrant enclaves. It argues that rural migrants are actually active agents who develop a vibrant garment manufacturing cluster by establishing a flexible garment production system, embedding their business within the enclave and maintaining a nationwide translocal network. It also contends that the enclave provides a feasible path through which migrants can achieve social mobility and adapt themselves to the urban environment. This paper concludes with a plea to take into account the agency and everyday practice of rural migrants when understanding the migrant enclaves and a reflection on the existing large-scale and indiscriminate demolition of the enclaves.

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Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3086-3105
Number of pages20
JournalUrban Studies
Volume52
Issue number16
Early online date6 Oct 2014
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2015

    Research areas

  • China, Migrant enclaves, Rural migrants, Social adaption, Social mobility

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