Discourse, Identity, and China's Internal Migration: The Long March to the City

Author: Dong Jie

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Multilingual Matters
Number of pages:
210mm x 148mm

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Rural-urban migration has been going on in China since the early 1980s, resulting in complicated sociolinguistic environments. Migrant workers are the backbone of China's fast growing economy, and yet little is known about their and their children's identities – who they are, who they think they are, and who they are becoming. The study of their linguistic practice can reveal a lot about their identity construction as well as about transitions in Chinese society and the (re)formation of social structure at the macro level. In this book, Dong Jie presents a wide range of ethnographic data which are organised around a scalar framework. She argues that three scales – linguistic communication, metapragmatic discourse, and public discourse – interact in complex and multiple ways.

Through her insightful ethnographic exploration of rural-urban migrant identity in neighborhoods and schools of Beijing, Dong Jie has achieved the ambitious purpose of documenting both the rapidly changing face of China's super-diverse cities and the theoretical value of a scaled approach to the study of linguistic processes of identity construction.

Drawing on a wealth of data from Beijing's migrant neighborhoods, Dong Jie offers a timely analysis of conversational, social-ideological, and institutional scales interacting in the identity-work of migrant children and adults in contemporary China. This book presents thought-provoking materials on China's internal migration, language diversity, and urban schooling.

Dong Jie completed her PhD at Tilburg University in 2009. She is a linguistic anthropologist at the Babylon Center and the Department of Languages and Cultures, Tilburg University. Her publications include Ethnographic Fieldwork: A Beginner's Guide (2010, with Jan Blommaert).


CHAPTER 1 : Introduction

CHAPTER 2: A roadmap into the issue

CHAPTER 3: Scale 1-Interaction

CHAPTER 4: Scale 2-Metapragmatic discourses

CHAPTER 5: Scale 3-Institutions

CHAPTER 6: Conclusions and reflections

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