The Bartlett School of Planning


Zheng Wang

Research subject

Thesis title: Neighbourhood social interaction in Shanghai– Implications for the social integration of rural migrants

Primary supervisor: Professor Fulong Wu
Secondary supervisor: Dr Fangzhu Zhang
Starting date: January 2012
Projected completion date: February 2016

For the last few decades China has been undergoing rapid urbanization and as a result millions of rural migrants have moved to Chinese cities to seek better employment and a better life. At current almost half of the populations in large Chinese cities are migrants but most of the rural migrants are marginalized due to their limited access to the urban welfare system but also suffer from discrimination and stigmatization by native residents. Consequently it is of great urgency to socially integrating migrants into the urban society and both the government and scholars have recognized the potential of neighbourhoods to assist in this matter.

Against this background, my thesis aims to find out to what extent rural migrants and their urban counterparts still interact with each other at the neighbourhood level and what factors influence this outcome. Using Shanghai as the case study, the thesis will firstly report on the current patterns of neighbourly interactions of residents living in different neighbourhood types including older and more deprived neighbourhoods; migrant enclaves as well as commodity neighbourhoods developed through the private real estate market.


Having left China at the age of three with my parents to move to Austria, I have always been very interested in how receiving cities can help migrants to successfully settle into the host society. Being from a migrant background myself, I fully understand that it takes more than simply earning a livelihood in the city in order to feel settled. Factors such as a sense of belonging to the city and the locality as well as creating friendships are equally important as economic stability. Consequently I have started my thesis to understand how urban planning can also assist in creating a more inclusive environment for migrants. 

Publications and other work

Wang Z; Zhang F; Wu F (2015) “Intergroup neighbouring in urban China: Implications for the social integration of migrants”. Urban Studies, online first publication, DOI10.1177/00420980145680680

Wang Z (2013) “Exploring the impact of neighbourhoods on the social integration of rural migrants”. Paper presented at the East China Normal University conference in Shanghai, PR China, March 2013

Wang Z (2013) “Exploring the social resilience of Chinese cities through the case of integrating rural migrants into the urban society”. Paper presented at the AESOP Young Academics Conference in Vienna, Austria, February 2013 (Conference Best Paper prize)