Negotiating individualisation in neoliberal China: youth transitions among the new generation of rural migrants

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


An increasing number of rural youths leave their families to receive education and training in urban vocational schools before seeking employment in China. This article aims to reveal and highlight the collectivist attitudes young migrants develop during their school-to-work transitions, even though they embrace the individualisation discourse of neoliberal self-development and self-reliance. When the young people reflexively adopt the principles of the market culture and neoliberal system to fit into the labour market, they are conscious about the important role of their disadvantageous family origins in their development. To deal with an unequal and competitive society, they rely on mutual support and co-operation to combat their risk collectively. This article suggests that collective sentiments and social networks remain extremely important in these Chinese young people's moral understanding despite the overwhelming influences of individualisation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
JournalChildren's Geographies
Publication statusPublished - 22 Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • collective
  • individualisation
  • Migrant youth
  • school-to-work transition
  • vocational education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Sociology and Political Science

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