A multi-method study of the everyday lives of migrant children in urban China
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The present study aims to explore migrant children’s experiences and perspectives on their family migration from rural to urban China. More specifically the study seeks to find out the family conditions of migrant children in the host society; the educational experiences of migrant children in the urban area; their coping strategies when they arrive at the new place and finally their social and cultural integration in the new community. The social studies of childhood provide the theoretical framework that guides this research. This study also uses structuration theory to understand how social structures influence migrant children’s lives from their perspectives, and how children, as active agents, create their own cultures and friendships under the social environment. A total of twenty three migrant children and nineteen local children participated in the study and their ages ranged from six to thirteen years. The study uses qualitative research methods in a case study in China, including participant observations, semi-structured interviews and in-depth interviews. The research findings indicate that family migration has serious impact on migrant children’s everyday lives. Migrant children experience a different everyday life in urban China compared with local children. The social status is a main factor preventing them from enjoying equal rights and integrating in the urban city. It also affects migrant children’s lives in a fundamental way and shapes their opportunity in education. The study also finds that migrant children receive less discrimination in the city compared with previous studies, which shows that Chinese government is trying to solve structure problems in a right direction.