Until recently, few people in mainland China would dispute the significance of the hukou (household registration) system in affecting their lives – indeed, in determining their fates. At the macro level, the centrality of this system has led some to argue that the industrialization strategy and the hukou system were the crucial organic parts of the Maoist model: the strategy could not have been implemented without the system. A number of China scholars in the West, notably Christiansen, Chan, Cheng and Seiden, Solinger, and Mallee, have begun in recent years to study this important subject in relation to population mobility and its social and economic ramifications. Unlike population registration systems in many other countries, the Chinese system was designed not merely to provide population statistics and identify personal status, but also directly to regulate population distribution and serve many other important objectives desired by the state. In fact, the hukou system is one of the major tools of social control employed by the state. Its functions go far beyond simply controlling population mobility.
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