中国式大迁徙:何处安放我们的故乡 – Great migration China-style: where is our hometown?

南都评论记者 张天潘

每年春节,都是中国人一次集体的回家的朝圣之旅,为了一家人的团聚,千里迢迢、千难万阻,都难以牵制回家的脚步。这或许是全世界独有的现象。中国人对于故乡的依赖,成为中国文化中一个难以无视奇景。最直接的体现是,关于故乡的诗文不计其数,“举头望明月,低头思故乡”、“近乡情更怯,不敢问来人”、“乡音无改鬓毛衰”等等,思乡中总是包涵浓浓的惆怅、伤感,乡愁扑面而来。近些年来,更有“每个人的故乡都在沦陷”这样的现代化之乡愁。

在今年的春节期间以及春节之后,又掀起了一波对于家乡五味陈杂的思考和书写,同时也有了面对北上广,逃离还是逃回、大城市与小城镇孰优孰劣的争辩。这些也都在给暂时放下工作沉浸于浓浓年味的人们,带去难以挣脱的现实提示:我们与故乡到底是什么的关系?为什么在哪里生活,会成为永不停歇的争论话题?中国式迁徙,何时能够得以安宁?我们的故乡,何处可以安放? 

故乡:故去的家乡

诗人于坚的一篇写于2011年的文章《朋友是最后的故乡》这个春节在微信朋友圈流传甚广,引起诸多人的共鸣。他在文中说到:故乡不再是我的在场,只是一种记忆,这种记忆最活跃的部分是朋友们保管着。记忆唤醒的是存在感,是乡音、往事、人生的种种细节、个人史、经验。如今,只有在老朋友那里才可以复苏记忆。中国世界焕然一新,日益密集的摩天大楼、高速公路,令文章无言以对。但朋友是旧的,朋友无法被拆迁,许多老朋友,也还坚持着“抽象理想最高之境”,滔滔者天下皆是,己所不欲强加于人的恶行时有发生;路遥知马力,日久见人心,朋友继续故乡遗风,“止于礼”“止于至善”,像刘关张那样肝胆相照,言行一致,说着母语,时刻准备为朋友两肋插刀。

事实上,于坚说出了一个很多人蕴藏在中心迟迟没有去发掘的真相,其实人们与故乡之间千言万语的情愫,本质上只是寄托在微弱的载体之上的。由此,也引起“亲人是唯一的故乡”等真实的抒怀,道尽了故乡与内心中的真实联系。这也说明,在这个已经被现代化与城市化裹挟的时代进程里,人们与故乡之间的藕丝,其实已经越来越微弱了,亲友等线索,成为最后的游子与故乡的中介或媒介。而如果这些中介或媒介一旦中断,那么这个故乡,或者就将成为已经故去的家乡了,被遗忘,被淘汰。

这种真实的心理的挖掘,在社会研究中来说,可能意味着更多。已故著名社会学家费孝通先生在《乡土中国》中说,“乡土社会是安土重迁的,生于斯、长于斯、死于斯的社会。不但是人口流动很小,而且人们所取给资源的土地也很少变动。在这种不分秦汉,代代如是的环境里,个人不但可以信任自己的经验,而且同样可以信任若祖若父的经验。一个在乡土社会里种田的老农所遇着的只是四季的转换,而不是时代变更。一年一度,周而复始。前人所用来解决生活问题的方案,尽可抄袭来作自己生活的指南。”

但是到现在,这种安土重迁——乡土中国的一个表征,也彻底反转了,中国人口流动已经成为全世界最频繁、数量最多的国家。故乡,开始被时代冲刷地日益褪色了,不再是神圣不可疏离的圣地,或者说,它只是成为了旅游式的胜地了。

在频繁的流动与迁徙中,费孝通所说的这一套乡土生活运作模式和逻辑被剧烈地颠覆了。而一旦这种乡土中国的表征在退化,“故乡”这个很大程度上寄托于乡土中国之上的文化产物,也将会随之凋零。乡土中国的背后,是一种传统式的追求安稳、可预见、最具安全感的生存需求,年复一年,好像时间在乡土中是停滞不前。很显然,在流动的现代社会中,这一切都是不复存在的,变化、陌生、不可预见才是最显著的特征,时间在人们匆匆的脚步中,急剧飞逝。

如今,乡土中国的载体,随着农村的凋敝,已经慢慢缩到小城镇中,流动中国的载体,毫无疑问,是在大城市。于是,在乡土中国与流动中国之间,人们也遭遇的选择困惑症,到底是具有更多中国传统的乡土中国式生活好,还是现代化与城市化之后流动中国的那种生活方式好?成为了众多人的一个纠结。

小城镇与大城市

刚刚出街的《南方人物周刊》封面报道就是“逃回北上广”,它说:马年春节过后,网络上关于大城市与小城市的比较与激辩,异乎寻常地喧嚣起来。无论是逃离北上广,还是逃回北上广,大城市、小城市之间的比较与取舍,以及由此带来的人群往返的潮汐,凸显的是一代城市谋生者安全感的缺乏,“无根”的困惑。

在两三年前,迫于房价高昂、交通拥堵、环境恶化等大城市的各种工作、生活压力之后,很多的年轻人主动或被动地选择“逃离北上广”,形成一股返乡潮,返回二三线的小城市(随着中国城镇化的推动,“小城市”其实严格上应该称之为小城镇更合适,后文都将使用小城镇)。但在这一两年后,这些“逃离北上广”的人,经历了家乡诸如工作机会少、收入水准低、观念不合拍、人情世故繁杂等挫折与不如意之后,却又有很多人选择了“逃回北上广”。身在故乡为异客,反倒觉得自己的原先逃离大城市苦虽然苦一些,但却更自由和有发展机会,心情不像在家乡小城镇那般压抑。于是,家乡成为了回不去地方。

有人总结说:大城市拼钱,小城市拼爹。大城市的“拼钱”、小城镇的“拼爹”,体现的是两种文化形态与社会属性,拼钱是商业与资本为指挥棒的现代社会属性,拼爹是以血缘等依托的乡土属性。小地方的安逸,有着乡土中国的安稳作为支撑,半熟人社会,关系网密织,网罗生长其中的人,有安全感。大城市是生人社会,在流动中,其是压力无法规避的代价,有着自由、机会,却少有安全感,明显地感受到贫富差距与阶层分化在自身形成的刺激。

在小城镇,个人被限定在先赋角色中(指建立在血缘、遗传等先天的或生理的因素基础上的社会角色),大城市中,有更多的机会,实现自致角色(指主要通过个人的活动与努力而获得的社会角色)。这一点,也很接近19世纪英国法学家梅因在其名著《古代法》中所指出的“身分与契约”的一个差异,乡土中国社会与现代社会的区分,接近于“身分社会”与“契约社会”的区别,也反应了从自然经济到商品经济(市场经济)、从“人治”到“法治”的进程。

大城市的自由与机会,更多的是法治与商品经济带来的人的解放(当然,也有拼钱的人的压迫),而小城镇的拼爹,则是自然经济(乡土社会的重要特征之一)、人治(讲关系和依靠血缘来分配资源)所束缚。

很显然,小城镇是乡土中国向现代社会迈进的未完成式,属于半乡土半现代的一个奇怪社会景观。也就是说小城镇,其实是乡村的放大版,同时也是城市的缩小版,它浓缩了中国的传统与现代,成为观察中国现代化最好的样本。可以说,在小城镇,是一个“杂交中国”:既有这现代化之后的物质与硬件,却还有浓厚的乡土中国的“差序格局”、着重人情世故,让有着优越先赋资源(拼爹)的人,获得异常的滋润与安逸,既能通过关系占据好的工作计划,还能够以此获得大城市能够享受的生活质量,早早地过上了有车有房的中产生活,甚至成为了令人眼红的“土豪”。但对于没有这些资源的人来说,则是难以寻觅到立足之地的黑暗角落。

对于较长时间有在大城市生活过却毫无资源依靠的人来说,相较之下,拼钱或许还让人更够接受些,至少拼钱,也是能有一定的个人奋斗与公平竞争的可能,拼爹这种寄生于先赋的资源则毫无公平可言。于是,大城市与小城镇的优劣,本质上还是乡土社会与现代社会生活方式的一种比对,以及人们在这两种社会中的能否生存下去的问题,大城市不宜居、不让居,小城镇不易居、不能居,那么大迁徙就只能成为中国永恒的主题。

“中国式”迁徙

其实,不管是大城市与小城镇,在他乡与故乡之间,中国之所以能够每年都要发生人类奇观的大迁徙,还是在于人们难以融入所在地。奋斗多年,依然是外地人的尴尬,才是每年不得来回迁徙的根源;而资源配置、地域(城乡)差异,才是即爱恋故乡,却又只能出走维持生计、无法守护家乡的根源。个体的命运,在这种大时代的背景下,一次最鲜明直白的映照,每个人都在其中找出自己的辛酸苦辣,不管是感性与理性,都在这种沉重的现实中,不得不开始揪心。

改革开放之前,以户籍为标志的严格的城乡二元机制,牢牢地锁定了整个乡土社会的流动性。改革开放后,城市居民脱离了单位的全方位管辖,农村居民也摆脱了公社的无理束缚,在户籍制造的城乡二元格局的缝隙之间,开启了一场前所未有的社会流动。特别是这个拥有8亿多农民的乡土中国,随着迁徙和流动的约束逐渐减少,大量农村人口进入城市后,经历了市民化过程,在身份上由纯粹和传统的农民,向具有了更多现代性的“农民工”或“新市民”转变。二代农民工很多人已经实现了个人的市民化,个体上已经与城市居民没有明显的区别了,真正地实现了社会学家孟德拉斯所言的“农民的终结”。

但他们落脚城市,却依然难以在落地生根在城市。“人挪活、树挪死”,然而以户籍制度为桎梏的中国式流动,往往成为一种令人尴尬的身份迷失,以迁徙的主体农村进城务工人员为例,从最初的“盲流”到“外来工”、“农民工”,在工不工、农不农之间,始终连最基本的身份融入都无法做到,犹如成为一片无根的浮萍,改革开放三十多年以来,我们已经亲身感受了社会流动带给社会的种种好处,但是具体在个体层面,这些流动的人员,却一直无法挣身份的束缚,实现真正的自由迁徙,而且也限制着社会流动的最优化。

回顾中国人口流动的变迁,在人口流动的客观需和不愿彻底放开的共同作用下,各地均陆续出台了一些渐进的措施,设立门槛,在学历上、个人技术能力上,实行了严格的规定,有条件地放开部分入户的可能性,以鼓励所谓合理的流动。但是多年下来,只有极少部分人享受到了这种政策,绝大部分人只有望洋兴叹的份,大量进入城市从事低端工种的人士,没有学历、没有所谓的技术,但对当地同样作出了贡献,却只能徘徊在自由流动的边缘,难以扎根城市,特别是北上广,犹如海市蜃楼。

机会与发展决定了人的流动,人口流动是社会发展的必然结果,有利于人才交流和劳动力资源配置和社会均衡发展。快速的经济发展必然产生大量的人口流动,美国、澳大利亚以及我国香港等地都是世界上人口流动量大,人员迁徙最频繁的国家和地区,同时也是经济高速发展之地。而再从社会学角度看,人口流动分为向上流动和向下流动,一个社会如果缺少这样可上可下的流动,变成僵化的社会结构,那么其危害性就是,轻微的冲击都随时可能导致这个社会结构崩盘。顺畅的人口流动能促进社会结构的不断地新陈代谢。

但中国目前这种迁徙,很多一部分是一种平行流动,人们在同一个社会阶层的领域里左右移动,或者说转移工作,职业等,保持社会阶层不变,无法完全从农民到市民的身份转变。因此,进入大城市的是拥有着自由了,但这种自由,却是个体身体上的自由,却没有权利上的自由。这也是造成中国每年大迁徙的根本原由,难以落地生根,才让中国在进入21世纪以后,不得不还保持着安土重迁的传统。

中国式大迁徙,只有身在其中的人才体会的各种辛酸苦辣。而现在的迁徙,还加入了环境等造成的新的问题,“环境难民”逃往小城镇和农村的城市人越来越多的,成为“环境移民”。在这种情况下,如何发展更多的现代社会属性的小城镇,不仅关系到人们的生活质量,更关系到中国未来的良性的发展。因为仅仅依靠北上广这些大城市,而没有遍地发展良好的小城镇,中国就没有未来,而且小城镇的发展,还是医治现在大城市所有病症的不二之策。

充分实现社会自由流动,打破户籍等桎梏,在此基础上,逐步改变中国当下的城乡与区域差异,让小城镇如大城市一样,能够有同样的机会与自由,而且城市能够开放怀抱,纳入那些长期落脚城市的漂泊之人,中国式迁徙,也就能够走入历史,所有人才能安顿好自己,安放好故乡,都能他乡即故乡,处处是家乡!

日期:[2014年2月16日] 版次:[AA17] 版名:[南方评论] 稿源:[南方都市报]

http://epaper.oeeee.com/A/html/2014-02/16/content_2020475.htm

Southern Metropolitan Daily commentator: Zhang Tianpan

Each Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) is a collective pilgrimage home for Chinese intending on reuniting with their families. Though some of them must travel long distances and encounter all kinds of difficulties, their steps still irrepressibly take them home. This phenomenon is perhaps unique in the world. Chinese people’s dependence on their hometown is a marvel of Chinese culture that is hard to ignore. The most obvious sign of this is the innumerable quantity of poetry and literature that pertains to one’s hometown: “I look up and gaze at the moon, I look down and think of home”, “The closer to home the more timid I feel, not daring inquire about my family”, “The local accent hasn’t changed, but my hair is sparse and greying” etcetera. Thinking of home always comes with deep emotions, it’s nostalgia hitting one right between the eyes. In recent years, a more modern kind of nostalgia has emerged, along the lines of “everyone’s hometown is being overrun”.

During and after Spring Festival this year, a new wave of reflections and writings pertaining to the mixed emotions towards one’s hometown has risen again. At the same time, people faced disputes over the merits of big cities and small towns, no matter whether they were coming back from one or leaving for one. These situations also give those that have temporarily stopped work and are immersed in the New Year atmosphere a real prompt: What is the real connection between us and our hometown? Why is it that wherever you live, this becomes an unceasing topic of debate? When will Chinese style migration become stress-free? Where can we find our home?

Hometowns: Dead Homes

The poet Yujian in the unyielding 2011 article “Friends are the Final hometown”, which has been spread far and wide among circles of friends on Weixin, has resonated greatly with a lot of people this Spring Festival. In the article he says: My hometown no longer has my presence, it’s just a memory, the most active part of which is being taken care of by my friends. What my memory awakens is a feeling of presence, my native accent, past events, all kinds of details of my life, my personal history and experience. Nowadays, it’s only by having old friends that it’s possible to revive old memories. China has completely changed. Increasingly more skyscrapers and highways make this article unable to respond. However, old friends can’t be dispossessed. Many old friends still persist in “the highest place of abstract ideals”. What’s unavoidable is that when you have evil intent, it will make itself known: just as distance determines the stamina of a horse, so does time reveal a person’s true heart. Friends continue the legacy of one’s hometown by “following the etiquette” and “having a state of perfection”. Just like how Liu Guanzhang shows total devotion, practise what you preach, speak your mother tongue, and be ready at any moment to sacrifice oneself for friends.

In fact, Yujian has spoken forth the truth that many people have inside of them but haven’t explored. Actually, the many things people say to express their feelings for their hometown is essentially a weak medium. This gives rise to the expressed emotions such as “one’s close relatives are the sole homeland”, as the only real connection between one’s hometown and one’s innermost being. This also explains, in the course of this era’s modernisation and urbanisation, the connection between people and their hometown is actually already becoming progressively weaker. Close family and friends are like the thread that joins, becoming the final link or medium between those living far from home and their hometown. If these links or mediums are broken off, then many hometowns will perhaps become dead hometowns, forgotten and washed away.

This kind of real introspection, looking at social studies, maybe signifies even more. The famous late sociologist Fei Xiaotong in “Native China” said, “people are deeply attached to their local society, in which they were born, raised, and will die. Not only is the population pretty much stationary, but also the land that provides natural resources hardly changes. In this kind of environment that is indistinguishable from the unchanging Qin Dynasty, not only can individuals trust in their own experience, they can also in the same way trust their ancestry. All that an old farmer in his local society has come across is the changing of the four seasons, rather than the change of an era. Everything moves in an annual cycle. Our forebears’ plan for resolving life’s problems, as far as was possible would be to take a leaf out of their own books.”

However, up until now, this deep attachment to one’s native land, representative of Native China, has been thoroughly turned upside-down. The frequency that China’s population moves from place to place and it’s volume now stands at the world’s highest. Native places have started to be eroded away by the era, fading more day by day. They are no longer the holy lands that cannot become estranged. Rather, they have just become touristy scenic spots.

From the aspects of the frequency of population movement and migration, the model and logic of life in one’s hometown that Fei Xiaotong talks about have been severely undermined. In addition, as soon as this kind of symbol of Native China starts to degenerate, one’s “hometown”, this high level product of culture that entrusts the care of Native China, will accordingly wither. Behind the scenes of Native China, there is a kind of a demand for a traditional existence that pursues stability, predictability and safety.Year after year, it seems that in people’s hometowns, time is at a standstill. It’s very clear that in modern society where people move from place to place, everything has a temporary existence, changes, and is strange. It’s impossible to say what the most outstanding characteristic is. In the frantic pace of modern society, time is fleeting.

Nowadays, Native China’s medium, with the impoverishment of rural areas, has slowly retreated to small towns. However, the medium for mobile China is, without a doubt, consigned to big cities. Consequently, people are faced with a bewildering choice between Native China and mobile China. Is it better to have more a more traditional, Native China style of life, or is it better to have the modernised and urbanised lifestyle of mobile China? This causes many people to feel at a loss.

Small Towns and Big Cities

In the most recent issue of “Southerner’s Weekly”, the cover story is “Fleeing Back to Big Cities”. It says: After this year’s Spring Festival, the comparison and heated debate between big cities and small towns on the internet is uncharacteristically lively. No matter whether returning to or parting from big cities, the comparisons and decisions between big and small cities, as well as the resulting tides of people going back and forth, highlight the lack of security in the generation of those who make a living in the cities and the bewilderment of “having no roots”.

Two or three years ago, restricted to high housing costs, traffic congestion, environmental degradation etcetera, after enduring every kind of stress in both work and life in big cities, many young people either actively or passively chose to “flee the big cities”, forming a tide of people returning to their hometowns of second and third-tier small cities. (With China’s push for urbanisation, actually “small cities” more suitably should be called small towns, so the remainder of this article will use this term.) However, one or two years later, these people that “fled the big cities”, found that there were few work opportunities in their hometowns, income levels were low, people’s views were not in step with their own, they didn’t know how to get on etcetera. After feelings of disappointment and things not being in line with their own wishes, many people in fact chose to “flee back to the big cities”. As a stranger in one’s hometown, one unexpectedly feels that the big city that one fled, although a little trying, in fact has more freedom and opportunities, and one’s mood doesn’t feel suppressed like it is in one’s home in a small town. As a result, hometowns have become places that can’t be returned to.

Some people conclude: in big cities people strive for money, in small cities people strive for a good family. The “strife for money” in big cities and the “strife for a good family” of small cities embody two kinds of cultural forms and social properties. Striving for money is a property of modern society that has business and economics as its baton. Striving for a good family is a property of one’s native land that relies on one’s bloodlines. Cosy little places have the stability of Native China as their support. People in these societies are pretty familiar with each other and relationship networks are close-knit, with people who have grown up in them having a sense of security. Big cities are societies of strangers in which the price of having unavoidable stress when moving from place to place brings freedom and opportunity, but not a sense of security. One can clearly sense the disparity between rich and poor and the difference in hierarchy provoking oneself.

In small towns, people are limited to their original role, (social characters that have foundations established in the bloodline, heredity and other innate or physiological elements), whereas in big cities there are more opportunities to create one’s own (social characters that are obtained by one’s activity and hard work). This is also very close to the discrepancy “from status to contract” pointed out by 19th century British jurist Sir Henry James Sumner Maine in his masterpiece “Ancient Law”. The distinction between society in Native China and modern society is close to the difference between a “status society” and a “contract society”. It also reflects the process of the change from a natural economy (with a bartering system) to a commodity economy (market economy), and from the “rule of man” to a “rule of law”.

Most of the freedom and opportunity in big cities is a result of the liberalisation of people through the rule of law and a commodity economy (of course, there is also the oppression of those who strive for money). However, striving for a good family in small towns is bound by a natural economy (the main trait of local societies) and the rule of man (in which social relationships and bloodlines are relied on to distribute resources).

It’s very clear that small towns lie in the halfway ground between Local China and modern society, belonging to a strange society that is half local and half modern. In other words, small towns are actually at the same time enlarged versions of villages and shrunken versions of cities, concentrating both the traditions and modern era of China, resulting in the finest specimens in which to observe the modernisation of China. We can say that in small towns there is a “hybrid China”: having the material and hardware from modernisation, but also having the “disorderly structure” of a strong Local China that has the emphasis on knowing how to get on in the world. This allows those with superiority and resources (who have strived for a good family) to be exceptionally well off and comfortable. By means of their relationships they are able to maintain a good work plan, and also because of this they can enjoy the quality of life that is possible in big cities. Very quickly they surpass the middle class that have their own cars and homes, so much so that they become the “nouveau riche”, provoking jealously in others. However, for people who do no have these resources, it is difficult to find a foothold in the dark corners.

For people who are in big cities for longer lengths of time but completely lack resources to rely on, in comparison striving for money perhaps can be more readily accepted. At least with striving for money it’s still certainly possible to have a personal struggle within a fair competition. With the strife for a good family, which involves the coveting of already bestowed resources, is not in the least bit fair, it could be said. So, the pros and cons of big cities and small towns are essentially a comparison of the lifestyles of local society and modern society, as well as whether people can continue to exist within these two different kinds of societies. Big cities are not suitable for living in, small towns can be impossible to live in, and so mass migration inevitably becomes an everlasting problem in China.

“Chinese Style” Migration

Actually, no matter whether it’s a big city or a small town, each year the human spectacle of mass migration between a foreign town and a hometown occurs in China, and still it’s difficult amongst people to become integrated in a place. After struggling for many years, it’s still the embarrassment of people away from home that is the root cause of why they can’t migrate back and forth. Due to resource allocation and differences between the areas (city and countryside), even if one loves their hometown, one has no choice but to leave it to maintain one’s livelihood, and so one is unable to protect the origin of one’s hometown. In this era, the most clear and distinct reflection of individual destiny is that everyone must find their own unique style, no matter whether it’s emotional or logical. In this kind of heavy reality, one cannot but start to get anxious.

Before the reform was opened up to the outside world, taking the census register as the mark of a strict urban and rural binary mechanism, entire local societies were firmly isolated. After the reform was opened up to the outside world, city residents broke away from all jurisdiction of one’s workplace. Village residents also broke free of the irrational restriction of communes. From the crack in the urban and rural binary structure which was created by the census register, an unprecedented level of migration occurred in society. What’s special about Native China, which has more than 800 million farmers, is that along with the gradual reduction in restrictions on migration, after a large portion of the farming population entered the cities causing a transformation in city residents, their status transformed from purely traditional farmers to more modern “migrant workers” or “new city residents”. After the transformation in city residents caused by many second generation migrant workers, there was no longer a clear distinction between them and the original city residents, thus genuinely bringing about what Henri Mendras spoke of as the “the end of farmers”.

Although they settled in the cities, it was still difficult for them to put down roots there. “Moved plants die, but people who move survive”, however, Chinese style migration that had the household census system as it’s shackles frequently causes a kind of identity loss amongst it’s people. Taking the bulk of people who migrated from the villages to the cities and became workers as an example, from the first “blind influx” to “employed outsiders” or “migrant workers”, lying somewhere in between workers and farmers, from start to finish even the most basic blend of identity was impossible to assimilate, with them being akin to floating, rootless duckweed. In the 30 plus years since the opening up of the reform, we have already personally felt every kind of benefit that a mobile society has brought to society, but when specifically talking about individuals, these people that move from place to place never have any way of confirming their own status, thus bringing about an actual migration of liberty and a restriction to the optimisation of movement within society.

Looking back at how the movement of China’s population has changed, when combining effects of the objective needs of and the unwillingness to completely unleash a mobile population, step by step measures have successively appeared everywhere thus establishing certain thresholds. Strict rules have been set up regarding qualifications and individual skills and capabilities. There is also the possibility of land being released for new housing, in order to encourage a so-called reasonable movement. However, over a number of years, there have only been a very small section of people who have enjoyed this kind of policy. The vast majority of people have inadequate credentials, having no qualifications and no so-called skills, and so undertake lower-end jobs upon entering the cities. Although they devote themselves to the area in the same way as before, they can only linger at the edge of freely moving crowds. It’s difficult for them to take root in the cities, especially in the largest ones, as if they were just illusions.

Opportunity and development decide how people move. A moving population is the inevitable consequence of a developing society, being beneficial to the interaction of professionals and the allocation of the labour force as well as the balanced development of society. Rapid economic development inevitably produces a large population movement. America, Australia, as well as my native Hong Kong etcetera are all parts of the world in which there are large moving populations. Countries and regions which have the greatest frequencies of migrations of workers at the same time are places in which there is rapid economic development. Looking again from a sociological perspective, if a society lacks a population that is mobile on all skill levels then its composition will become rigid, the danger is that even a small disruption could at any time result in a collapse of its structure. Unimpeded population movements can promote the constant metabolism of a society’s structure.

However, regarding this kind of migration in China today, many parts have population movements only on certain skill levels, with people roughly on the same social stratum migrating, or perhaps changing jobs or professions. This maintains the current social structure, making it impossible to completely change one’s identity from a farmer to a city resident. Therefore, although those that enter the cities have freedom, it is only the freedom of one’s body, not the freedom of one’s rights. This is also the cause of the fundamental reason for China’s annual mass migration; the fact that it’s difficult to take root. After entering the 21st century, this has given China no choice but to maintain the tradition of begrudging leaving place where one has lived for a long time.

Within Chinese style mass migration, only those who are skilled can have a diverse experience. Also migration nowadays has a new problem created by the environment; “environment refugees”. City people fleeing towards small towns and villages are increasing, becoming “environmental migrants”. In this kind of situation, it’s not certain how to develop more small cities with the attributes of modern society, not just pertaining to people’s quality of life, but more to China’s future healthy development. Since China only depends on the cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, and also since there aren’t well-developed small towns everywhere, it simply has no future. In addition, it’s still best to go to big cities when seeking treatment for illnesses.

The full realization of free movement within society, breaks the shackles of the census register. On this basis, China’s current disparity between city and countryside is changing step by step, making small towns more like big cities in that one is able to have the same kind of opportunities and freedom there. Also, cities can open up and embrace its residents that have idled the time away for long periods. Chinese style mass migration could go down in history, with all skilled people able to find a place for themselves, and establish their own hometown or take a foreign place to be their own. One’s hometown is everywhere!

Date: {16 February 2014} Revision: {AA17} Version Name: {Southern Review} Manuscript Source: {Southern Metropolis Daily}

http://epaper.oeeee.com/A/html/2014-02/16/content_2020475.htm

1 Comment

Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

‘Shamate’: China had hipsters before they were coolMarco Polo Project blogreply
August 6, 2014 at 10:15 am

[…] 中国式大迁徙:何处安放我们的故乡- Great migration China-style: where is our hometown… […]

Leave a reply