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Rural-urban migration pathways and desires under neoliberal socioeconomic reform in contemporary China

Huang, SiLang (2019) Rural-urban migration pathways and desires under neoliberal socioeconomic reform in contemporary China. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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In this thesis, I analyze how the neoliberal practices – especially the commodification of labor power and deregulation of the labor market in China — have caused the displacement of millions of Chinese rural peasants. The premise of the study is that China in many ways exhibits qualities of a neoliberal state in its policies such as rapid urbanization, rural-urban migration, deregulation, and privatization. In general, I use neoliberalism as a term that indicates how macro-level policies exert influence on individuals and families on a micro level, culturally, economically and socially.
To address these questions about the relationship between migrant workers and neoliberalism, I focus on a specific case study of two generations of one migratory family’s inter-provincial migration experiences in China since the 1980s. By focusing on what has been happening to the Huang family’s relationships and gender roles, and how people experience family relationships in this bigger neoliberal development context, I try to understand the factors that shape the lives of those who are involved in rural-urban migration under China’s form of global neoliberal capitalism today. My ethnographic research closely examines the family’s first and second-generations of migrant workers. The generations mainly discussed here are the generation of parents (three siblings who are now in their fifties) and their children’s generation (mainly three cousins who are now in their twenties). This family helps illuminate some of the broader social changes and subtle changes in family relationships that have taken place under China’s neoliberal socioeconomic reform since the late 1970s. Alongside migratory opportunities, they have experienced changes in family relationships, gender roles, and social hierarchies. By looking at the neoliberal reforms in China and how they have influenced the lives of the people involved in rural-urban migration, I connect individual experiences of China’s socioeconomic development to broader global development and neoliberal capitalism.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Huang, SiLangsih18@pitt.edusih18
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairConstable,
Committee MemberDing,
Committee MemberGaetano,
Committee MemberRouse,
Date: 29 April 2019
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 29 March 2019
Approval Date: 29 April 2019
Submission Date: 19 April 2019
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 110
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: David C. Frederick Honors College
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Rural-Urban Migration, Labor, Migrant Workers, Gender, Neoliberalism, China
Date Deposited: 29 Apr 2019 15:35
Last Modified: 29 Apr 2019 15:35


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