Society for Psychological Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
This paper explores how social status is being understood and negotiated by the offspring of rural migrant workers in Shanghai, China. Although the cheap labor supplied by the migrant workforce has been key to the country’s rapid economic development, they are seen as emissaries of an underdeveloped countryside that is holding the country’s development back. State narratives about human capital stress the importance of education and a range of behaviors constituting a ‘quality’ citizen, seen to be necessary for the country’s continued progress. While the discourse on human capital and development categorizes the population into the have and have-nots of ‘quality’ (suzhi), migrant children are paradoxically not given full welfare rights to the education that is supposed to raise it in them.