The pursuit of new citizenship by peri-urban residents in China: Status, rights, and individual choice

Shanghai University
Wang, Dong;
University of Duisburg-Essen
Christiansen, Flemming
Although China did not announce any official urbanization policy until 2014, since the 1980s urbanization has been the core goal of China’s unceasing push for modernization and national rejuvenation. Tens of millions of inhabitants living on the fringes of China’s cities merely hold temporary permits with virtually no political and social rights and only a modicum of public policy benefit in the cities where they work. The rights and social entitlements of these people are changing once again, because cities in China are now required by the central government to include the majority of them as normal citizens with equal rights. From the perspectives of three groups of peri-urban residents – relocated agricultural elites, in situ urbanites, and migrant workers – in Luoyang, Shanghai, and Hohhot, this article traces the dynamic dimensions of this ongoing, highly complex urbanization process. We argue that the decision to become a participant, negotiator, deal-maker, or deal-breaker in the migration, displacement, and/or resettlement process involves proactive agency and rational choices in a fast-moving environment, and that cities in China must make concessions to convince peri-urbanites to give up their official rural links.


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