Chinese children’s identities at the intersection of policies, civil society and migration

Paper presented at the AAS-in-Asia: “Asia in Motion: Ideas, Institutions, Identities”, 22-24 June 2015 in Taipei, in the panel entitled “Inclusion/exclusion: Identity policies in contemporary Asia and beyond”

Adult policy makers execute power by determining who and what a child is and thus actively decide on which children are socially included and excluded. Civil society organizations, then, react to children’s marginalization which accompanies such identity-creations. In their attempt to deliver relief, however, these organizations in turn disseminate a certain image of and shape special identities for the excluded children.
This paper analyses which identity for children is formed within the context of rural-to-urban migration in China. Under scrutiny are education and protection policies for minors but also family planning, registration and agricultural policies for adults, as the latter set of policies also implies a certain image of what children’s place in society is. This analysis is juxtaposed to child-identities created by civil society organizations in social media platforms. The presentation examines where those child identities oppose and where they reaffirm each other, and inquires for the consequences of such image-making for children’s actual experiences.
Applying the capability approach in combination with taking the Chinese socio-historical context serious, this paper aims to shed light on how children in the Chinese migration process (so called left behind children and migrant children) could be included in disseminating knowledge about themselves.

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