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Translocality and capital negotiation among urban second-generation labour migrants in Hangzhou, China

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

Despite many works examining the experiences of internal migration in a wide range of contexts throughout the world, there remains limited discussion on those of the second-generations. In turn, existing research on second-generation migration tends to focus on those who participate in international and transnational rather than internal movement. This research aims to address this gap through an examination of the nature and extent of spaces which are (re)produced amidst the second-generation internal migration in contemporary China by a case study situating at Hangzhou. Drawing on both semi-structured and narrative interviews with 73 second-generation migrants, this research examines how the seocnd genertaions develop livelihoods, social activities and householding through negotiating a range of capitals (i.e. economic, social, cultural and civic) for sustaining well-being across multiple locales over time. Adopting a translocal perspective, it explores how these practices either facilitate or constain capital accumulation regarding the (re)production of trans-bordered (social) spaces. More specifically and conceptually drawing on concpets of ‘production of space’ (Lefebvre, 1991) and ‘forms of capital’ (Bourdieu, 1986), this research develops the idea of ‘negotiated migrant space’ to comprehend how second-generation migrants construct their spaces based on bodily negotiating strategies for accumulation. It confirms the agency of second-generation migrants with respect to their capital accumulation regarding the development of economic, social, and cultural linkages translocally under significant exploitation of the state, not least through the hukou system, as well as wider capitalist social relations and patriarchal forms of householding. By employing ‘space’ as both an epistemological concept and a methodological approach, this research argues that second-generation migrants’ capital negotiation emerging across multiple locales entails the production of translocal spaces. These, in turn, enable second-genertaion migrants to mobilise capitals and resources translocally in ways that also allow them not only to accumulate but also to confront the exclusions experienced in the city.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date1 Nov 2019

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