University of Duisburg-Essen，Germany
China has been experiencing a rapid process of urbanization over the reform era. Its population reached a symbolically important turning point early in this decade: now the majority of Chinese citizens is living in cities and towns instead of in the countryside. Recent reforms, especially of the hukou (household registration) system, have continued to transform the previous urban—rural duality into a multi-layered hierarchy of cities. The emerging system no longer categorically separates urban residents from country-dwellers but instead introduces more finely grained distinctions according to cities of different sizes and types. In the case of municipalities, this hierarchy is even internalized as differences between urban districts and made an inherent part of urban planning. This gives rise to new forms of inclusion as well as exclusion of citizens along various dimensions worth exploring. For instance, how are different social strata, age groups or genders affected by the on-going process of rural—urban integration? How is their participation in social, cultural and economic affairs impacted? What new identities are taking shape in this transformation? How can the new cities offer access to public services (education, social insurance, urban transportation) and economic opportunities to (new) residents? These are the main questions addressed by the contributions described below.
Flemming Christiansen (PhD Leiden 1990), Professor, Sociological Institute and Institute of East Asian Studies, University of Duisburg-Essen (since 2011). Professor in Chinese Studies, University of Leeds (2006-2011). Main publications include: Chinese Politics and Society. An Introduction. London, 1996 (with Rai); Chinatown, Europe. An Exploration of Overseas Chinese Identity in the 1990s. London, 2003; The Politics of Multiple Belonging. Ethnicity and Nationalism in Europe and East Asia. Aldershot, 2004 (with Hedetoft); Encyclopedia of Modern China, 4 volumes. Farmington, 2009 (with Pong et al.); and Village Inc.: Chinese Rural Society in the 1990s. Richmond, 1998 (with Zhang).