Just-in-Time Urbanization? Managing Migration, Citizenship, and Schooling in the Chinese City
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In this article I argue that the Chinese state is responding to tensions wrought by high-speed growth by attempting to develop a form of technocratic biopolitics I refer to as ‘just-in-time (JIT) urbanization’. Mirroring techniques of the Toyota Production System (of which JIT is a constituent element), large Chinese cities have sought to avoid the costs associated with the production and warehousing of surplus populations. Under this system, migrants are granted access to local citizenship and public education for their children if they fulfill a specific, state-determined, need in the labor market. The hope is to be able to precisely deploy specific kinds of labor power as needed, at as low a cost as possible, while avoiding waste, overpopulation, and (presumed) attendant political chaos. The social consequence of this approach is that nominally public resources such as education have been funneled to elites in what I term an ‘inverted means test’.
biopolitics; China; citizenship; education; migration; urbanization
Previously Published As
Friedman, E. (2018). Just-in-time urbanization? Managing migration, citizenship, and schooling in the Chinese city. Critical Sociology, 44(3), pp. 503-518.
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