Interpreting the Challenges of China's Rapid Urbanization
Rapid urbanization is changing the social order in China. This essay will focus especially on two aspects of this change: the twin phenomena of the urban-rural divide and its expression within cities as disparities between locals and migrants. We examine the situation in part through a comparative lens: Is China like any other country in our experience? We will take the case of urbanization in the United States a century earlier and Brazil more recently to point out similarities and differences. We also apply a theoretical lens: what are the fundamental causes of the patterns we see in China, and what general theory of societal change best helps us to interpret it?