From Factory Workers to Talented Migrants. The Management of Social Services for New Residents in Dongguan, China
Since 1978, the management of the floating population has become a big challenge for China. Dongguan, one of the major migrant cities, is widely considered a reference city, as it was the first to professionally manage migration, and it has a more permissive policy. This research chooses Dongguan as a case study for exploring the perspectives of the staff involved in service provision. Staff members from all 33 'migration centres' (NDSBs) and from 38 (out of 45) social organizations working with migrants filled in an online questionnaire. The data was complemented by four in-depth interviews with people in helping professions, who assist migrants. The paper analyses several institutional challenges and structural limitations that prevent migrants from integrating, such as understaffing of social work services, insufficient funding and reliance on temporary, subcontracted social workers. The research suggests that, despite progressive policies, the education of migrant children is still a source of huge inequity between the local and migrant populations. It argues that the recent policy goals of shifting from manufacturing to high tech industries, further disadvantages the largest majority of migrants, who are low-skilled. The research clusters respondents' proposals for change into five categories: (i) the preservation of the status quo; (ii) awareness raising and insubstantial change; (iii) assisting migrants to fit in. The absence of another two possible modes: (iv) 'acting for structural policy reform' and (v) 'shaping the views of the locals on the "New Dongguanese'" is examined later. (original abstract)
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