PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2016, Vol. 35 ›› Issue (5): 569-579.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2016.05.004

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Progress of studies on migrant workers’ residential cummunity in China

ZHOU Chunshan(),YANG Gao   

  1. Guangdong Key Laboratory for Urbanization and Geo-Simulation, School of Geography and Planning, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
  • Published:2016-05-31
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41271182


Migrant workers’ residential communities in China emerged in the 1980s, as a result of rapid urbanization, industrialization, institutional arrangements, and cultural background. The development of Chinese research on migrant workers’ residential community can be divided into three stages, that is, the initial stage, the expansion stage, and the stage of refocusing on social space and community governance. In general, the contents of this research field witnessed a sustained expansion and evolvement. The study of spatial forms is changing from static to dynamic state. The study of social network is experiencing a change from group to spatial. The research perspectives of formation mechanism are shifting from traditional sociology, urban geography to new institutional economics, cultural geography, and production of space. The governance of migrant workers’ residential community is turning from reconstruction to collaborative governance. Moreover, the research methods are becoming increasingly more diversified, combining traditional survey method and quantitative and qualitative research. Comparatively, the study of immigrant communities in western countries can be traced back to the early 20th century, with “Chicago School” in the United States took the lead in research. International studies have experienced four research paradigms, including assimilationism, pluralism, heterolocalism, and transnationalism. Such studies have produced abundant research findings, and constructed relatively complete theoretical and research frameworks. This article compares Chinese migrant workers’ residential community and Western immigrant community studies from the perspectives of research paradigms, perspectives, and focuses, and discusses the prospect of future research on Chinese migrant workers’ residential community.

Key words: migrant worker, migrant workers’ residential community, immigrant community, social space, China, western countries