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Urban poverty and marginalization under market transition: the case of Chinese cities

Wu, Fulong (2004) Urban poverty and marginalization under market transition: the case of Chinese cities International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 28, (2), pp. 401-423. (doi:10.1111/j.0309-1317.2004.00526.x).

Record type: Article


Rapid urban growth in China has been accompanied by rising social inequality and marginalization of disadvantaged social groups such as laid-off workers of the state-owned enterprises and rural migrants. The Chinese government has officially acknowledged the existence of 'marginal groups' and prioritized combating the new urban poverty as an urgent task to eliminate the root of potential social instability. This article proposes the concept of 'poverty of transition' from the institutional change perspective to examine how the 'new' urban poverty is created by the disjuncture between the old and new institutions. Specifically, the poverty of transition suggests that the main cause of the new poverty is structural, i.e. economic restructuring and the release of redundant workers previously hidden inside the workplace, and the increasing migrant population who are excluded from the formal urban institutions. A sizable underclass is now under formation in the sense that they are institutionally detached from mainstream urban society. To close the disjuncture between the marketization of labourers and the transition in welfare provisions requires more than just a policy of poverty relief; instead it requires a fundamental vision of the new 'citizenship' in the Chinese city.
En Chine, la rapide croissance urbaine s'est accompagnée d'une aggravation de l'inégalité sociale et d'une marginalisation des groupes sociaux défavorisés tels que les ex-employés des entreprises nationalisées et les migrants ruraux. Le gouvernement a officiellement reconnu l'existence de 'groupes marginaux' et annoncé comme une priorité la lutte contre la nouvelle pauvreté urbaine afin d'éliminer cette source potentielle d'instabilité sociale. L'article propose le concept de 'pauvreté de transition' dans une perspective d'évolution institutionnelle, afin d'examiner comment la 'nouvelle' pauvreté urbaine naît de la rupture entre institutions anciennes et nouvelles. Notamment, ce concept suggère que la cause première de la nouvelle pauvreté est structurelle, autrement dit émane de la restructuration économique et du dégagement des ouvriers en surnombre précédemment dissimulés sur leur lieu de travail, ainsi que de la population migrante croissante, exclue des institutions urbaines officielles. Une classe inférieure considérable est en cours de formation au sens que ses membres sont isolés institutionnellement de la société urbaine normale. Combler cette rupture entre la marchandisation des ouvriers et la transition des mesures sociales exige, davantage qu'une simple politique publique d'aide aux pauvres, une vision fondamentale de la nouvelle 'citoyenneté' dans les villes chinoises

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Published date: June 2004


Local EPrints ID: 58618
ISSN: 0319-1317
PURE UUID: 87d046f7-9148-46ba-9ba1-ee815f78b602

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Date deposited: 15 Aug 2008
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 14:26

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Author: Fulong Wu

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