The Everyday Life Practices of Chinese Rural Migrants in Urban Villages
Chapter 5. Co-inhabitation and Transformation: Knowing the Locality through Housing
Chapter 5Co-inhabitation and Transformation: Knowing the Locality through Housing
The most essential component of human settlement is housing, not only because it provides us with a material shelter, but also because it functions as a key site ‘where symbolic relations are encoded in the everyday life and naturalised as physical patterns of behaviour’ (Bray, 1997: 57), whereby what Bourdieu (1977, 1990) calls habitus is nurtured and inculcated. As an ethnographic field worker, I was able to experience this first hand through my own settlement in the two urban villages.
My formal fieldwork started with house hunting. I spent three days searching the street ads pasted on poles and walls, meeting local owners, and viewing a great variety of properties. My first room was good in location, but after only two days, I had to move out for the fleas in the room made for sleepless nights. When I was worried about where else I could move to, by chance I met Zhang Shifu, a Songzi migrant whom I had known for years for he ran a bicycle repairing stall in front of my apartment. He introduced me to his landlord Qiang, who owned a house compound in Gaowang. Fortunately, Qiang happened to have a single room available for renting. I rented the room immediately without any hesitation, not only because I was generally satisfied with the condition and price, but also, living with someone that I was familiar with in the same compound made me feel...
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