School-to-Work Transition and Identity Capital of Second Generation of Chinese Migrant Workers

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 11:00
Oral Presentation
Xuan WU, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Since China’ s post-1978 economic reforms, there have been large amount of young people migrating from mainland to coastal regions, from rural to urban areas, and from towns to big cities. Born after China’s economic reform and growing up in an era with rapid development of globalization, informatization, industrialization and urbanization, the second-generation of migrant workers have gained higher level of education and skills than their predecessors, which would bring them more choices for city life. Meanwhile, since the old rural-urban institutional barrier still exists, and their access to necessary welfare services is limited, they have to deal with plenty of risks and uncertainties in late-modern society.

Identity capital theory reconciles the structure-agency debate by applying them in a cross-tabulation, it provides a perspective to study how people strategically manage the various elements of their subjective, interactional, and social lives, which involving a portfolio of identity-based resources. This research focused on the questions about how do the second generation of migrant workers perceive their school-to-work transition, and how do they deploy their identity capital in their school-to-work transition, the current work environment and life adjustment in the host society. Identity capital is deployed in social situations with their parents, classmates, friends, colleagues, supervisors, neighbors in this process of school-to-work transition through interactions. It would be reflected as the strategy portfolio when young migrant workers dealing with potential opportunities and obstacles, and be embodied in every choice they made from education to work.

Through elaborating stories of a new target group, the second-generation of Chinese migrant workers, who are non-local citizens from disadvantaged background facing with multi-aspect structural barriers while possessing diverse agentic skills, this research will substantialize identity capital theory. Besides, relevant research findings can yield welfare ideas formulating more age-oriented policies in response to true needs of this group.