Class Consciousness of Rural Migrant Children in China

Jiaxin CHEN*, Dan WANG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The state of class consciousness of working-class children in China has received scant attention in the scholarly literature. This study examines the class consciousness of rural migrant children as they are about to join their migrant parents and become “China's new workers.” Qualitative investigations were conducted in two primary schools in Beijing. Focus group and individual interviews were held with 87 fifth- and sixth-grade migrant children in the two case schools and 324 valid student questionnaires were collected. The findings reveal that migrant children are aware of the unequal class relationships suffered by migrant workers; however, their interpretations of class-based injustices exhibit false consciousness, shadowed by individualism, meritocracy and the duality of images. Family and school may play vital roles in shaping migrant children's class consciousness.

近年来,中国研究中很少关注工人阶级子女的阶级意识问题。已有研究表明,农民工子女很有可能在未来加入父母的打工群体,成为“中国新工人”。本研究聚焦北京两所以农民工子女为主体的小学,描述并分析农民工子女的群体阶级意识状态。在两所小学里,作者一共访谈了87名五年级和六年级的农民工子女,并回收了324 份有效的学生问卷。研究发现,小学五六年级的农民工子女对打工群体所面对的社会不平等状况已经具有了清晰的认识。但是,他们对社会不平等现象的归因分析受到了个人主义及精英主义的多重影响。因此,其阶级意识仍处于“虚假意识”状态,并未形成批判性社会意识。同时,本研究也讨论了家庭和学校在农民工子女的社会阶级意识构建过程中所起到的作用。
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)814-834
JournalThe China Quarterly
Early online date23 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

We are grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their invaluable comments and
suggestions. This research was partially funded by the Seed Fund for Basic
Research from The University of Hong Kong (fund No. 201611159140).


  • China
  • class consciousness
  • primary school
  • rural migrant children
  • working class


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