Symbolic City/Regions and Gendered Identity Formation in South China

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Translocal China: Linkages, Identities and the Re-imagining of Space, 2006, 1, pp. 138 - 154
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In China under reform, mobility has become a leitmotif of social and economic change. Rural migrants have surged into cities, hukou-for-investment policies have fueled sales of upscaleprivate housing, tourism has become a major leisure time activity, and seeking a passport is becoming an urban trend. Geographical mobility, social mobility, travel, and imaginaries about these possibilities-all in relation to the pace of industrialization, at least for some of China's cities and regions, the fastest in world history-have made movement a central processural theme of transformation and identification in contemporary China. These new mobilities reflect dynamic economic transformations under reform, and, most basically, renewed opportunity to travel and relocate. Socio-economic mobility wrought by reform is symbolized by millions of rural migrants, and the new ties formed by migrants between small towns and large cities. Moving up this urban hierarchy and the economic ladder are widely held goals if not imaginations, as representations of the new rich-typically residing in China's major citiescirculate in media and society. International linkages are also increasingly evolving between regions and cities of rapid growth in coastal provinces and major source countries of foreign direct investment in China. As Wanning Sun (2002) has discussed, China's new media technologies, especially television, have brought images of not only Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong to the village, but also those of New York, London and Tokyo.
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