The Mystery Revealed—Intersectionality in the Black Box: An Analysis of Female Migrants' Employment Opportunities in Urban China

Hypatia 30 (4):862-880 (2015)

Female migrant workers are doubly disadvantaged in China's urban labor market because of their doubly marginalized identities as both women and rural residents. This article takes a process-centered approach to explore how female migrants' two identity categories generate intersectional effects on their job-search experiences in cities. Data from in-depth interviews conducted in Xi'an city, China, in 2010 and 2011 reveal that three patterns of relationship explain the processes where the gender–hukou intersection affects female migrants. In the first pattern, a splintering relationship, hukou and gender work singly to form employment discrimination against female migrants. The second, a contesting relationship, indicates that hukou and gender alternate as the primary identities that affect their employment opportunities. In the third, a collaborating relationship, hukou and gender work together to either positively or negatively shape female migrants' employment prospects. No matter which of the relationships plays out, female migrants' disadvantages as cheap urban laborers have become deeply entrenched in the urban labor market. This can be explained by two powerful social institutions in contemporary China, the hukou system and patriarchy
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DOI 10.1111/hypa.12171
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