Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle



Ye Liu, Zhigang Li, Yuqi Liu, Hongsheng Chen


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.



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

    Research areas

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

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by journal

  1. Inter-generational housing inequalities: perspectives from ‘Baby Boomers’ versus the ‘Millennials’

    Hoolachan, J. & McKee, K. 3 Jul 2018 In : Urban Studies. OnlineFirst

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Linking desires and behaviour of residential relocation with life domain satisfaction

    Nowok, B., Findlay, A. M. & McCollum, D. 1 Mar 2018 In : Urban Studies. 55, 4, p. 870-890

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. The effects of physical restructuring on the socioeconomic status of neighborhoods: selective migration and upgrading

    Zwiers, M., van Ham, M. & Kleinhans, R. 19 Jun 2018 In : Urban Studies. First Online, 17 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Market expansion, state intervention and wage differentials between economic sectors in urban China: a multilevel analysis

    Liu, Y., Xu, W., Shen, J. & Wang, G. 1 Aug 2017 In : Urban Studies. 54, 11, p. 2631-2651 20 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  5. Neighbourhood immigrant concentration effects on migrant and native youth’s educational commitments, an enquiry into personality differences

    Nieuwenhuis, J., Hooimeijer, P., Van Ham, M. & Meeus, W. 1 Aug 2017 In : Urban Studies. 54, 10, p. 2285-2304

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Urban Studies (Journal)

    Lisa Barbara Law (Editor)
    2005 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workEditor of research journal

ID: 242610701