Place Attachment and Belonging among Educated Young Migrants and Returnees: the Case of Chaohu, China

Huimin DU*

*Corresponding author for this work

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

38 Citations (Scopus)


This article explores how geographic mobility is implicated in the process of bonding with place. By using data collected from a survey of a group of college graduates who grew up in Chaohu and left their hometown in their young adulthood, four types of migrants (Translocals, Departers, Aliens, and Settlers) and three types of returnees (the Trapped, the Bonded, and the Rooted) are classified. This research acknowledges the significance of traditional influences in people's bonds with places; meanwhile, it challenges the conservative view of seeing attachment/belonging to the homeland as universal and unconditioned. The findings also show that educated young migrants tend to have a greater desire to be integrated into the host city, and they are more prone to be accepted by the new socio-spatial environment. Taken together, this study corroborates the idea that geographic mobility does not undermine place-based attachment/belonging but tends to attenuate its intensity. Attachment/belonging is not necessarily limited to one single place; yet, attachment/belonging ascribed by birth still has an advantage over the attachment/belonging acquired by residence.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1967
JournalPopulation, Space and Place
Issue number1
Early online date20 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This work benefited from a Writing-Up Grant from the Foundation for Urban and Regional Studies (FURS). The author would like to thank Allan Findlay and two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions on a previous version of this paper.


  • belonging
  • Chaohu
  • migrants
  • mobility
  • place attachment
  • returnees


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