Practices of provision, usage and service access for chengzhongcun residents
For our last sharing session before Christmas, Martijn Hendrikx has offered some reflections on his paper, (Un)lock the educational dream: practices of provision, usage and service access for chengzhongcun residents in Haizhu, Guangzhou, which was presented at the Migrants in the City conference in Sheffield, UK, back in October.

Against the backdrop of growing urban inequalities in the Global South, this study puts into discussion how we can move beyond static and universal approaches towards substandard settlements and inclusion for their residents. Chengzhongcun accommodate the majority of migrant workers in Chinese cities, but their development opportunities are unclear since the hukou system complicates access to educational facilities. Moreover, the simultaneous development of gated communities and substandard settlements amplifies spatial inequalities in Guangzhou’s urban service delivery. Understanding how spatial distribution, ownership and policies structure access remains a challenging task, and successful interventions become an even bigger quest. Through in-depth interviews with local providers, operators and chengzhongcun residents, this study shows how strategies, decisions and the mobilization of resources of providers and users act as mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion. Practice theory and an urban managerial perspective that highlight intermediaries in access systems, proves to be a helpful analytical scheme to open the ‘black box’ of service access. Herewith, this paper puts into discussion the social effects of ‘enclave urbanism’ and development status of (long term) migrants in China’s enclave cities.

(All photos by Martijn Hendrikx)

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