We have come to the closing of our first More Than Migrants Series. All the Series we have been publishing present topics that are diverse and hard to fully expose in a series of articles, but the topic of Migrants has particulary befuddled us for its vastness.
Everyone seems to be a migrant in Shanghai: the lady from whom we buy our vegetables, the restaurant on the street corner, my next-door neighbors, even my friends. So many people were born elsewhere, and there is so much diversity amongst them, so many different storeis. People with and without hukou, people with well-paid jobs, people with low-paid jobs, and people without jobs.
There are some issues that people without Shanghai hukou share, which we discussed in a previous article. The other issues which came up from our talks, interviews, and research into this topic, is not necessarily related to the status of being a migrant, but persistently related to being a migrant worker, and that is socio-economic class.
The history of all hitherto existing society is a history of class struggle, Karl Marx writes in his famous Manifesto. Everyone is born into a class, in the same way we are all born into a particular family and country. This was the case in Aristotle’s time, in Marx’s time, and it is still the case today. Sure, we don’t talk about ‘nobility’ any more, but there’s still differences between classes, which is particularly persistent in people from the countryside versus people from urban areas. Class does not merely relate to differences in wealth, but also to differences in values, education, social securities, and career opportunities.
When we discussed about the final article for the More Than Migrant Series, we ended up having a long discussion about class, how it has influenced us, and how it shapes the world. Instead of finishing this Series with a discussion of class, we decided to dedicate an entire Series to this issue, which is often difficult to see, but when it’s noticed it can no longer be ignored.