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Socio-spatial typologies of mobility of the floating population in China's industrializing hinterland

Montag, 10. Mai 2021


Over the last forty years, the scale and pace of urban expansion in China has profoundly transformed its countryside, resulting in increasingly uneven urban-rural agglomerations. Both inter-and intra-provincial migration have driven this process, wherein a highly mobile ‘floating population’ moves between regions seeking income opportunities and affordable housing. However, their integration within existing communities is hindered by exploitative working conditions, social barriers, and long-standing institutional constraints. While urban-rural integration has become a key national development aim, significant challenges remain and a socio-spatial lens for analysing (im)mobilities has not yet been given sufficient attention.

This presentation considers the Huangyan-Taizhou region within the Yangtze River Delta, where globalised industrial upgrading processes are reconfiguring local economies, demographic structures, and everyday practices. Operationalising Lefebvre’s spatial production theory as a methodology, the empirical study is situated within this urban-rural transitional zone where the migrant workforce typically settles and inequalities are most exaggerated. Combining social science and architectural approaches, the identified socio-spatial typologies reveal these (im)mobilities and illustrate how informality can accommodate different social groups, enable negotiations, and defy the spatial compartmentalisation envisioned by rural urbanisation programmes.

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