Tag Archives: marginalisation

Panhandling and the contestation of public space in Guangzhou

Ryanne Flock1 (2014), « Panhandling and the Contestation of Public Space in Guangzhou », China Perspectives [Online], 2014/2 | 2014, Online since 01 June 2014, connection on 17 December 2014. URL : http://chinaperspectives.revues.org/6449


Urban public space is a product of contestations by various actors. This paper focuses on the conflict between local level government and beggars to address the questions: How and why do government actors refuse or allow beggars access to public space? How and why do beggars appropriate public space to receive alms and adapt their strategies? How does this contestation contribute to the trends of urban public space in today’s China? Taking the Southern metropolis of Guangzhou as a case study, I argue that beggars contest expulsion from public space through begging performances. Rising barriers of public space require higher investment in these performances, taking even more resources from the panhandling poor. The trends of public order are not unidirectional, however. Beggars navigate between several contextual borders composed by China’s religious renaissance; the discourse on deserving, undeserving, and dangerous beggars; and the moral legitimacy of the government versus the imagination of a successful, “modern,” and “civilised” city. This conflict shows the everyday production of “spaces of representation” by government actors on the micro level where economic incentives merge with aspirations for political prestige.

 More information on the author

  1. Ryanne Flock is a PhD candidate at Freie Universität Berlin.Freie Universität Berlin, East Asian Institute, Ehrenbergstr. 26-28, 14195 Berlin, Germany (flock.ry@googlemail.com). []

Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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Beijing’s low-wage migrants: hikers in the urbanisation and growth process

Liu, R., Wong, T.-C. and Liu, S. (2013), Low-wage migrants in northwestern Beijing, China: The hikers in the urbanisation and growth process. Asia Pacific Viewpoint, 54:3, pp. 352–371. doi: 10.1111/apv.12029


In the post-Mao era from the 1980s, market reforms have seen profit-led neoliberal forces being introduced into China’s urban spatial movements. In supporting such movements, labour mobility is allowed but the hukou system has been retained to prevent urban informality and slum formation and to control municipal public expenses. Without residency permits granted by the host cities, low-wage rural migrants enjoy little ‘right to the city’ and are deprived of local welfare and benefits. They often become ‘drifting tenants’, frequently driven by urban renewal, rising rentals and change of jobs. This study examines the spatial effect of causes (residency system) and consequences (frequent shifts in residence) experienced by low-skilled and low-wage migrants. A survey was conducted from February to mid-April 2011 in northwestern Beijing’s Great Zhongguancun area which shows and the marginalised state of displaced migrant tenants. This includes their adaptations to change, the pattern, causes and history of their intra-city mobility.


Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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