Society and Identity
In research dealing with the neoliberalization processes of China, migrant workers are mainly represented as the excluded, exploited and losing groups during transformations. Since 2010, however, new political and social spaces have been emerging, whereby the relation between urban citizenship and migration is constantly being renegotiated. Neoliberalism in terms of governing technologies is becoming more relevant in the field of urban citizenship and how migrant workers are governed.
This paper deals with the intertwined relation of urban citizenship, volunteerism and neoliberal governmentality in China. After a brief introduction of research context and theoretical background, a case study of a grassroots organization is presented, which was founded by the migrant workers and then has been transformed into a semi-institution under the leadership of local trade unions. Following this case, it is analysed how the political subject is transformed and how far it is related to neoliberal governing strategies of urban citizenship. Furthermore, the author answers the question of how the strategies of a "differential inclusion" are implemented by illustrating which part of migrant workers are selected as subjects that can be governed by empowerment and self-government within the framework of the urban regime. Finally, a discussion is provided on the relevance of “politics of representation” and “politics of scale” on the issue of migrant workers contested rights to the city.