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

Montag, 10. Mai 2021

Lupe [1]

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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