Growing city, resettled people and contesting rights
: land expropriation and social integration of displaced farmers in Yinchuan, China

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Tens of millions of farmers in China have lost their rural land and been displaced involuntarily to resettlement communities in the city as a result of unprecedented urbanisation since the 1980s. Their integration into the host city remains an issue in contemporary China. This thesis aims to explore the underlying dynamics of urban expansion in China and focuses particularly on the long-term impacts of rural land expropriation on displaced farmers. It is based on a qualitative case study in a resettlement community in Yinchuan, a city in northwest part of China, and seeks to address the gap in research on the in-depth and subjective experiences of rural-urban migrants in an ethnic minority area of China. Semi-structured interviews with displaced people provide the main source of data, which are accompanied by the views and perspectives from a range of stakeholders as well as the analysis of government documents and media data.
This thesis not only provides an in-depth analysis of displaced people’s experiences in integrating into the host city and contesting rights, but also enriches understanding of the social impacts of the capitalist production of space under the economic reforms in China. Findings reveal that urban spatial production was accompanied by structural injustice which negatively affected displaced population’s social integration and social identity construction in the host city. However, rising rights awareness amongst displaced groups, from contesting material-based rights to public and political participation, indicates an emerging civil society and increasing level of social integration. The thesis contributes to the empirical understanding of their post-displacement lives, indicating the formation of social injustice from a spatial perspective and the development of social integration and civil society. This research has implications for urban policy making, social justice for marginalised groups, citizenship studies and civil society building in contemporary China and outlines possible areas for future research.
Date of Award20 Jun 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorMisa Izuhara (Supervisor) & Patricia A Kennett (Supervisor)

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