Rural migrants in villages-in-the-city in Guangzhou, China: Multi-positionality and negotiated living strategies


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This paper investigates rural Chinese migrants’ agency through their multi-positionality and negotiated living strategies. The idea of ‘multi-positionality’ conceptualises a migrant’s mobility between physical locations and shifting social positions. Through individual migrants’ multi-positionality, this study discusses their place-specific social relations and thereby the diverse way to negotiate a living in villages-in-the-city in Guangzhou, China. These strategies include simple approaches such as facilitating physical movements between different locations and more sophisticated ones which develop multiple roles with outsiders and native villagers in different localities. While the former allows individual migrants to use their local knowledge to make a living in the context of institutional exclusion and discrimination, the latter further cultivates changes and an upgrade in social relations. Rural migrants' everyday stories are used to unfold an individual’s particular people–place relationship and how he/she has tapped into a place-specific resource to make a living. It does not aim to generalise rural migrants’ experience; rather it seeks to show diversity and complexity. Migrants’ stories are collected through extensive research in a village-in-the-city in Guangzhou, China. Through these stories, not only does this paper articulate the social relations which underlie individual migrants’ shifting positions, but also extends translocal studies on migrants beyond the narrative of physical locations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2245-2260
Number of pages16
JournalUrban Studies
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Urban Studies

User-Defined Keywords

  • China
  • living strategies
  • rural migrants
  • translocality
  • villages in the city


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