Migrant Workers' community in China: Relationships among social networks, life satisfaction and political participation

Qingwen Xu, Neal A. Palmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The millions of persons migrating from China's rural areas to urban spaces have contributed greatly to the country's decades-long economic growth, and the influx of migrants has changed the fabric of China's urban social and economic life. These internal migrants, similar to many international immigrants, depend heavily on their social networks, which are often developed in their rural villages, for jobs, housing, financial assistance, and social support both during and after migration. Consequently, migrants' networks function distinctly in well-being and behavior. Using data from the 2006 China General Social Survey, this article seeks to 1) investigate the existence of migrant sub-groups in China, 2) understand the characteristics of social networks among sub-groups, and 3) explore the relationships social networks hold to life satisfaction and political participation among China's migrant population. This article asserts that China's migrant population includes several sub-groups emerging on the basis of gender, education, age, and marital status, which in turn produce different patterns of ties and social interactions among their social networks. While this article finds very different employment patterns among migrant sub-groups, migrant networks do not appear to strongly influence perceptions and behaviors, such as life satisfaction and political participation. This article also argues that individual networks could facilitate the development of migrant communities in cities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)281-294
Number of pages14
JournalPsychosocial Intervention
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2011


  • chinese internal migration
  • cluster analysis
  • hukou
  • migrant workers
  • network analysis
  • ruralto-urban migration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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