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The Happiness of Rural-to-Urban Migrant Workers in Shanghai: Comparing Migrant Workers and Shanghai’s Urban Residents

XUE, HANDAN (2018) The Happiness of Rural-to-Urban Migrant Workers in Shanghai: Comparing Migrant Workers and Shanghai’s Urban Residents. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Despite extensive research into China’s migrant workers, little is known about their happiness levels, particularly in the cultural and social context of China. Based on hedonic and eudaimonic theories, this study explores the happiness of China’s migrant workers in terms of subjective wellbeing, mental health, and self-actualisation, in addition to contrasting it with that of urban residents, by analysing 45 semi-structured interviews and 600 questionnaires conducted in Shanghai in 2014. The major findings are as follows: (1) migrant workers’ definition of happiness primarily focuses on their family lives, especially their children, and not particularly on themselves; (2) migrant workers’ definition of happiness is significantly influenced by traditional Confucian culture, while this is less true for urban residents; (3) demographic variables, i.e. gender, age, education, marital status, income, working hours, and number of children, appear to have no discernible effect on migrant workers’ happiness levels, except for housing status and length of residence; (4) seven factors affect the happiness levels of migrant workers: material wealth; meeting the basic psychological needs of relatedness; mental health; social environment; meeting the basic psychological needs of competence; family life; and job and career; (5) a happy migrant worker is one who has a healthy mind, satisfactory material conditions and relatedness needs, a basic level of satisfaction with the social environment, and a higher degree of satisfaction with his/her family life, job, and competence; (6) there is a happiness gap between migrant workers and urban residents, and distinctions in material wellbeing regarding income, social welfare, and housing are the main drivers of such a disparity. With regard to Chinese urbanisation, building an equal and free Chinese society, lowering property prices, improving migrant workers’ satisfaction with their material conditions, and improving migrant workers’ education and professional skills would best promote migrant workers’ happiness; (7) two theoretical models – ‘Mapping Chinese Happiness’ and ‘The Cupcake Model’ – are proposed to generalise the characteristics and influential factors of Chinese people’s happiness.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Applied Social Sciences, School of
Thesis Date:2018
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:16 Jul 2018 15:52

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