On 2 October 2018, Professor Nick Smith hosted a lecture ‘The Urbanization of People: Politics of Development, Labor Markets, and Schooling in the Chinese City” by Professor Eli Friedman from Cornell University. In response to recent migrant school and informal housing demolitions, Prof. Friedman examines how the urban governance of China’s megacities manage the increasing inflows of people into Chinese cities, and its social consequences.
The Urbanization of People seeks to uncover the dehumanizing effects of China’s population control which treats individuals as mere labourers instead of full social beings. Prof. Friedman points to the ‘hukou’ household registration system that determines one’s access to social services, and has consequently created an inequitable ‘inverted welfare system’. Owing to his Labor Relations background, Prof. Friedman coins the term ‘Just-in-time Urbanization’ used to refer to China’s dynamic and demand-driven migration policies that easily and quickly dispenses of unproductive labour.