From urban exclusion to urban transformation
in China’s citizenship challenge
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This chapter focuses on migrant NGOs’ claims to the city through acts of ‘integrating into the city’ and ‘claiming the right to the city’. Urban citizenship is understood here not only as the legal right to belong to the city, but also as a process of building community within the city and participating in building the city, both materially and culturally. The chapter also analyses whether various forms of engagement and intervention within urban spaces, which take place through these acts, can challenge the powerful discourses around urbanisation, prescribed practices of passivity and the legal constructs at the heart of urban citizenship. This is observed through examples of creating spaces of belonging, defending the last house standing in a demolished urban village, or establishing schools for migrant worker children in defiance of urban development policies and the constraints of the hukou system. The chapter also takes into account the obstacles to such citizenship transformation by reflecting critically upon the structural limitations put up by the state and by capital to bar migrant workers from successfully claiming the right to the city.

China’s citizenship challenge

Labour NGOs and the struggle for migrant workers’ rights

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