Hukou, socio-spatial class, and the strategic citizenship practices of Chinese labour migrants in Australia
Taylor & Francis
School of Arts and Humanities
Australian Government Research Training Grant
Forrest Research Foundation
China does not permit dual nationality, meaning migrants in Australia must evaluate the benefits of Chinese versus Australian citizenship. Decisions about competing citizenship statuses are informed not only by this prohibition of dual nationality but also by individuals’ classed positions. By comparing the choices of trade skilled migrants from different backgrounds in China, this paper shows that homeland social class is a key factor in decision-making processes, particularly the uniquely Chinese spatial expression of class manifested through the hukou system and the differential local citizenship this entails. An analysis of representative cases illustrates the complexities of evaluating memberships acquired through migration and nested memberships resulting from local citizenship with China. People from different backgrounds and, importantly, different places in China’s socio-spatial hierarchy value their Chinese legal status differently. The differential effects, both material and symbolic, of membership in or exclusion from urban centres in China form a critical part of individuals’ calculations, over and above the national-level membership within which local hukou citizenship is nested.