chapter  9
17 Pages

A tale of Foxconn city: urban village, migrant workers and alienated urbanism


Since mainland China started its economic reform and adopted an open-door policy in 1978, there has been a huge infl ux of labour from rural areas into the coastal cities. Due to the urban-rural dichotomous hukou system (the household registration), these migrant workers were called ‘peasant workers’ or nong min gong . Nowadays, with the number over 100 million, the ‘new generation migrant workers’ born since the 1980s have become the mainstream of the fl oating population (Development Research Centre of the State Council, 2011 ; see also Chapter 2 of this book). Many young, new-generation migrant workers disassociated from their familiar hometown places and left for workplaces with which they were unacquainted. The labour conditions they faced seem to have been harsh, and there was little social support available to them. As the tip of an iceberg, the serial fell-from-building suicides of Foxconn factory workers in 2010 shocked the world, and revealed the diffi culties and risks of migrant workers’ lives in urban China.