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Identity and Politics: the Change of Migrant Workers' Identity in the Process of Urbanization in China

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DOI: 10.25236/iceesr.2020.069


Wei Gan

Corresponding Author

Wei Gan


In the early days of the founding of People's Republic of China, the state used political and administrative means to establish a new social structure with workers, peasants and intellectuals as basic structural elements. According to people's historical background and actual professions, the system of identity separation is constructed in the whole society. Through the household registration system, we established a dual social and spatial hierarchy system with urban-rural opposition and with the interest inclining to urban population. It hindered the urbanization of agricultural population. China's urbanization rate was far lower than the degree of industrialization; the household registration system became a barrier to restrict the citizenization of migrant workers. On the road of urbanization, migrant workers have experienced the changes of identity from “vagrants”, “migrant workers”, “migrant labors” to “new workers”. But only the reform of household registration system is unable to satisfy the multiple demands of migrant workers in urbanization. The central government puts forward two strategies of new urbanization and rural revitalization, deeply implements the comprehensive reform of the household registration system, coordinates the balanced development of urban and rural society, tries to realize the universality and equalization of public services, promotes the identity transformation from “migrant workers to new workers”, and accelerates the urbanization of migrant workers.


Migrant workers, Identity, Household registration system, Urbanization