The Society for Social Work and Research

2013 Annual Conference

January 16-20, 2013 I Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina I San Diego, CA

Rural Migrant Workers in Community Employment in Beijing: Intention of Community Employment and Influencing Factors

Saturday, January 19, 2013: 8:00 AM
Executive Center 4 (Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina)
* noted as presenting author
Lei Wu, PhD, Faculty, Renmin University of China, Beijing, China
Xin Zhang, MSW, Student, Renmin University of China, Beijing, China
Huang Yunong, PhD, Associate Professor, Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, Chengdu, China
Background and Purpose: In the past decade, more than 200 million China’s rural population has swarmed into urban areas. This colossal internal-migration calls for attention from both academics and practice towards employment of rural migrant workers in cities and towns. On the other hand, community employment in urban areas, which combines the community service demand of residents and the employment demand of jobseekers, facilitates rural migrant workers to earn a living and thus integrate into cities. Furthermore, community employment for rural migrant workers is advocated by the Ministry of Civil Affairs of China. However, research on community employment of rural migrant workers, specifically the workers’ perspectives on community employment, is still thin. This study aims to explore the intention of community employment among rural migrant workers in community jobs in Beijing and the factors influencing their intention. It focuses on the influencing mechanism of the factors on their intention.

Methods: As an explorative research to explore deeply into influencing mechanism, a qualitative research method with individual, face-to-face, and in-depth semi-structured interviews was adopted in the study. Thirteen participants occupying community jobs were recruited with nonprobability sampling method until saturation was arrived. Three-fourths of them were in their 40s and with child(ren), one-third were male, and 85% of them had middle school education. Two-fifths were small retailers and others were domestic helpers in the community. Data were coded and analyzed with grounded theory method to detect patterns across the interviews.

Results: Based on the participants’ experience and perspectives with community employment, the majority of the participants intended to maintain their community employment except two females in their 20s. Prominent influencing factors were: (a) low human capital factors including education and age which kept them in community employment; (b) limited social capital factors which restrained their job-searching; and (c) negative psychological capital factors which lowered their job expectation and positive psychological capital factors which strengthened their intention to sustain the current jobs. Although they perceived that traditional cultural factor demeaned community employment, and that low income, working long hours, and poor working conditions of community jobs were below their aspirations, they intended to maintain the community employment.

Conclusions and Implications: This study tentatively describes the intention of community employment among rural migrant workers and explores their reasons to maintain the community jobs. The findings indicate that they intended, although reluctantly, to maintain the community employment. The results imply that work barriers, which usually restrain welfare recipients or the unemployed from obtaining and keeping jobs, exist in trapping rural migrant workers into community employment. Measures are recommended to not only strengthen their human, social, and psychological capital but improve traditional culture factors and their income and working conditions as well. Social work interventions are needed to mitigate work barriers and facilitate employment among them. This exploratory effort lays the ground for future research on Chinese migration and community employment. Further research is warranted to examine the impacts of work barriers on rural migrant workers and community employment.