Legitimating exclusion and inclusion: ‘Culture’, education and entitlement to local urban citizenship in Tianjin and Lanzhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The paradigmatic ‘migrant’ in China is a worker of rural origin, but more than 30% of the one-fifth of the population living and working away from their place of hukou registration are inter-urban migrants, a group mostly neglected by scholars. Based on ethnographic observation and interviews from two Chinese cities – one on the coast, one in the impoverished interior – this article examines how a range of types of migrants deal with citizenship and mobility. It shows that a key criterion for being able to settle in a new place and gain access to local social citizenship is migrants’ level of ‘culture,’ expressed primarily through formal education. Linking access to local citizenship for migrants to their ‘cultural quality’ goes largely unquestioned, as it is connected to the legitimacy of education as a means of differentiating among citizens more generally. This logic shapes family migration strategies as parents seek to ensure that their children will receive an education that enables access to the kinds of good jobs and benefits that enable full citizenship wherever they live.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)755-772
Number of pages18
JournalCitizenship Studies
Volume21
Issue number7
Early online date26 Jul 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017

Keywords

  • China
  • internal migration
  • mobile citizenship
  • education
  • hukou registration
  • social citizenship

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