- How social structure changes in Chinese global cities: Synthesizing globalization, migration and institutional factors in Beijing
- Cities : The International Journal of Urban Policy and Planning
- Volume | Issue number
- 60 | A
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
Recent studies on the social structural change in global cities have recognized globalization, migration, and institutional factors as three main forces underlying this process. However, effects of these factors have rarely been synthetically examined and the social structure of emerging Chinese global cities under typical influence of all these factors has yet not been systematically scrutinized in previous literature. To fill these gaps, we firstly established an encompassing framework to incorporate the effects of these logically interconnected factors and then applied it to Beijing, the capital and an emerging global city of China. Using the economic and population census data, we investigated the social structural changes of migrants and local residents separately over the past decade. The results demonstrated a clear trend of professionalization with a considerable growth of ‘the upper class’ coupled with relative shrinkages of ‘the middle and lower classes’ in Beijing. In this case, economic globalization and the large immigration did not result in social polarization as conventional wisdom suggested because the localized welfare system successfully prevented local residents from engaging in ‘the lower class’ on the one hand and the developmental state intentionally upgraded the occupational structure with a selective openness regulation on the other. Beneath this overall professionalization trend, the social gap between migrants and the locals was not reduced but widened despite their common professionalization trend. This is mainly due to the internal differentiation of migrants in upward mobility. Compared with local residents, qualified migrants are able to equally get upgrading chances with very limited institutional obstacles while those in ‘the lower class’ cannot. These results all suggest the particular importance of institutional factors in reshaping the social structure of global cities. The integration of the interactive effects of multiple factors and the separate examinations of migrants and local residents are demonstrated to be conducive to understanding social structural changes, developing targeted social policies, and expanding the theoretical horizon of global city research.
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