Who am I? Migrant workers’ bicultural identity integration, social support, and social maladjustment
Tinghu Kang (Northwest Normal University), 2018, 46(7), 1111–1122. 

In China, migrant workers are identified as people from rural areas where they worked as farmers, who now work in a city, where they have a double identity of farmer/worker. They hold a rural household registration status (hukou). The hukou system was introduced in the 1950s to regulate rural-urban migration, and a lack of an urban registration means that these people (unlike those with an urban registration) do not have access to housing and other subsidized benefits in a city.

With 484 migrant worker participants from Lanzhou in Northwest China, the author examined the cultural conflict that these workers face, and whether this differs between men and women. Although there were no significant gender differences in bicultural identity integration, men (vs. women) had significantly higher levels of social support, and women (vs. men) had significantly higher levels of social maladjustment.


The gender differences in social support and social maladjustment are probably because Chinese values are still influenced by the traditional lifestyle of men working outside the home and women looking after the home. Thus, men are more likely to be social supported than are women when they are migrant workers in the city, because women are isolated from their original social support system. Male migrant workers tend to be more independent in the new urban culture.


In addition, as women have few means of obtaining social support, other than from their families, and perhaps friends and colleagues, this explains why female migrant workers’ social maladjustment was higher than that of the male migrant workers. Also, as women’s employment opportunities are fewer than men’s, and their living conditions are more difficult, they tend to suffer more from employment pressure and loneliness.


In regard to bicultural identity integration, there is disparity between traditional and modern attitudes in China, in that the migrant workers are pursuing financial and social status, but they are also involved in the traditional hukou and culture of rural areas. The author’s findings contribute to understanding of the difficulties faced by Chinese migrant workers in the context of the strict hukou system.

Katharine Samuel | Copyeditor
Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal