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Migrant Integration in Peri-urban Beijing

Liu, Siyao; (2019) Migrant Integration in Peri-urban Beijing. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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This research objective to provide a full understanding of the underlying dynamics of migrant social integration into the host cities through the lens of neighbourhoods. To reach this goal, the research objective of this thesis is divided threefold. The first aim of this thesis is to extend the concept of migrant integration and its underlying dynamics to the Chinese context. Secondly, it aims to understand migratory individuals and families in four neighbourhoods in Beijing through detailed observation, so that explores integration pathways and the social integration difficulties of migrant households in different residential communities. The third aim is to understand the influential factors of migrant integration to the cities with a focus on the role of neighbourliness and neighbourhood types. To reach the above goals, four chapters are established. First, it adds records to government's citizenisation plan (shiminhua in Chinese term) through their intersection with integration study by systematically reviewing and evaluating the shiminhua policies of converting migrants to residents since 1950s. There had been a stronger influence of the market on migrant integration because the contemporary labour market in China‘s metropolises is in favour of skilled-labours under the industrial transition. I argue, using shiminhua/integration policy as an excuse and with complete autonomy of hukou and housing management, municipal governments actually aim at stimulating market competition and reaching the industrial transition of the cities. Second, this thesis conceptualised migrant integration in urban China, which resulted in a suggestion of six core domains reflecting migrant integration, and the development of a framework embodying different integration dynamics between the neighbourhoods. Via the first phase study, it also discovered a coexistence of low- skilled migrants and skilled migrants in the city with residential differentiation. It argues that a process of socio-spatial restructuration among migrant labours has appeared in China‘s metropolises. Identifying who succeeded in social integration is not straightforward as integration is a multi-dimensional process. Urban society is more likely to incorporate educated, professional and wealthy migrants due to the country is more knowledge- and economic-oriented. In contrast, low-skilled migrants are treated as outsiders, deprived of the rights available to the local urbanites. Third, this research includes narratives of in-depth participant observation in migrant households in four types of neighbourhoods. It focused on the theoretical debates between the ethnic enclave and mixed neighbourhood; and assimilation theory. It argues, in one hand, mixed neighbourhoods result in fostering migrant residents' stronger sentiment toward host cities. The failure of integration is not necessarily a result of the homogenous tenure and population of a neighbourhood, but rather because residents do not involve in the formal urban economy. It found that, unlike ̳ethnoburb‘ in America, Chinese urban villages cannot generate upward social mobilities such as institutional achievement and resourceful social networks because the government does not admit the informality. Chinese migrant entrepreneurs are unable to develop their businesses to a large scale when facing frequent eviction by the municipal government. On the other hand, migrant integration has a spatial dimension in that integration difference is enhanced and fixed through residential differentiation. To be specific, it is the position of a migrant in the urban economy that predetermines their integration path and neighbourhood preference, while the neighbourhood further indicates a stronger impact on migrants‘ social integration through embedded lifestyles and ideologies. Neighbourhoods are essential spheres of shared experience through which distinct migrant social groups are formed. Fourth, utilising data from 943 valid questionnaires in Beijing and multinomial logistic regression models, this this continually explored Chinese migrants‘ sense of belonging to the city and its determinants from the neighbourhood perspective. The data firstly support the qualitative findings in the previous chapters that migrants in the urban village, in general, have lower socioeconomic status, less institutional achievements, incompetent social network and a lower sense of belonging to the city compared to the migrants in the other three types of neighbourhoods. Secondly, the four regression models support the significant roles of better socioeconomic status, formal labour contract, resourceful social network and residing in formal neighbourhoods in predicting a better sense of belonging to the labour-receiving city. There are two surprising findings. First, the empirical results show that social network in the neighbourhood has a negative relationship with a better sense of belonging to the city. This finding is different from Wu, Zhang and Webster‘s (2013) argument that existing neighbouring activities continuing to generate neighbourhood attachment might be useful for migrant integration. It also challenges the view that migrants tend to become embedded in the city if they are more engaged in socialising with neighbours (Wu and Logan, 2016). Second, the urban village does not contribute to migrants‘ sense of belonging to urban society compared to other formal neighbourhoods. In conclusion, marketisation of China's urban economy has attracted not only low skilled rural migrants but also well-educated professionals and wealthy entrepreneurs from other parts of China. On the one hand, human capital predominantly influences migrants' participation in the urban labour market, institutional achievement, residential assimilation and their incorporation into the host cities. On the other hand, neighbourhoods group migrants with similar capitals and produce distinguishing milieus to facilitate or to jeopardise different aspects of integration. Migrant integration is the interplay between human capital, market economy, institutional forces and neighbourhood characteristics.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Migrant Integration in Peri-urban Beijing
Event: UCL (University College London)
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > The Bartlett School of Planning
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10083344
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