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A Qualitative Analysis Of Internal Migration To Beijing Open Access

Using ethnographic data from Beijing, participant observation focus groups, semi-structured interviews and background research, this article examines the interplay of narratives of the Chinese government, academics, and everyday people regarding internal migration to Beijing, aiming to address the complex societal issue of why individuals continue to migrate to Beijing despite clear resistance measures from those in the government and on the ground. First, there is a clear disconnect between migrant workers’ and non-local hukou holders’ motivations for migrating regarding education and job opportunities, and the Chinese government’s attempted solutions both in policy and practice to discourage migration through mystical offers of local hukous and lavish housing. Secondly, although there is a broad understanding that Beijing’s population is outgrowing its resources, how and who regulates this growing phenomenon continues to lack consensus. Lastly, there exists internal pushback from local Beijing residents for further assimilation of migrant workers and non-local hukou holders into Beijing society, preventing efficient and effective implementation of reforms at the local level. While existing research primarily focuses on overarching government policies and reforms or, more specifically, rural migrant workers in industrial provinces, this article focuses on non-local hukou holders as well as migrant workers in Beijing; and their everyday interaction with government policies, examining their motivations and expectations for migration, as a method of analyzing policies effectiveness. Immigrants to Beijing accept an often marginalized livelihood in Beijing in search of better access to resources, education, and job opportunities, and seek a more equitable system of their access to goods. This article analyzes the various discourses among different populations in Beijing, ultimately, offering policy recommendations for the political and cultural context of 21st Century China.


Corn, Hannah
GW Unit
International Affairs
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Research Days 2018
Internal migration
Migrant workers
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