Is there any chance to get ahead? Education aspirations and expectations of migrant families in China

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41 Citations (Scopus)


In China, there is a growing group of 'migrant children', who reside in the city but do not have full rights to access education. Many have been granted a chance to study in public schools after the policy change, but they continue to have lower educational outcomes than the local students. To understand the inequality, this paper examines the educational goals of migrant families in Beijing. Based on the field interviews, it shows that even migrant children who aspire to attain higher education are nonetheless 'blocked' by discriminatory examination laws and limited resources. Their subjective outlook is derived from objective conditions and concrete experiences. Their family of origin determines the types of resources available to them, and thus plays an important role in the formation and justification of their educational goals. A realistic assessment of their chances of achieving their aspirations leads them to have lower expectations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)547-564
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Sociology of Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2012


  • aspiration
  • China
  • education
  • expectation
  • migrant children

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science

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