Urban futures in a newly mid-sized city in China
(Chinese University of Hong Kong)
Paper short abstract:
How can industrialization and the degradation of factory work occur together? What does the juncture of these processes imply for the future of newly industrializing urban areas? This paper examines these questions in the context of one newly industrialized mid-sized city in China.
Paper long abstract:
Over the past 20 years, Zouping (Shandong province) has grown from a town of 30,000 people to a city of 350,000. Much of this growth has relied on the success of local textile and food processing factories. But while the vast majority of Zouping's new households depend upon income from factory wages, factory work itself is becoming increasingly despised, especially by young people. The education system often uses the threat of factory work to motivate students—study hard or you will end up a factory worker. How can the denigration of factory work be understood in a part of the world where industrialization has brought rapid economic growth and hitherto unthinkable wealth to the majority of new urbanites? Are the negative views of factory work by youth a reflection of their particular stage of life, the ideological environment in which they are situated, or the social history of industrialization in this part of the world? Or is factory work inherently alienating? While de-industrialization is a destructive plague driving the imagination of urban futures in many parts of the world (including other parts of China), what sorts of urban futures can be imagined in places that are currently industrializing?
Urban futures (WCAA/IUAES/JASCA joint panel) CLOSED - 10