Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

City Newcomers' Adaptation to Urban Life, Personal Well-Being, and Social Support

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

City Newcomers' Adaptation to Urban Life, Personal Well-Being, and Social Support

Article excerpt

Since the 1919 reform in China, and especially in the 21st century with the ongoing development of Chinese industrialization and urbanization, many rural dwellers have become city newcomers (CNs), that is, people who transfer from the countryside to an urban household. CNs are characterized by either active migration, whereby people from the countryside become town citizens and join an urban household system through the purchase of private housing, or passive migration, through which country dwellers have been reassigned by the government to live in the city because of the expropriation of their lands. The latter category comprises the majority of CNs, who are known as land-lost farmers (Hua, 2008; Sun, 2008). CNs are qualitatively different from farmer workers, who have land-and, therefore, possess the means of basic production and living security-and are registered within a given rural area that is their permanent residence. Their stay in an urban environment is temporary, leading to high mobility and instability, whereas CNs are granted permanent urban residence certificates that enable them to live in the city as citizens.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics of the People's Republic of China (2011), the Chinese urban population increased exponentially from 459,060,000 (36.2% of the total population) in 2000 to 771,160,000 (56.1% of the total population) in 2015. CNs' social adaptation and quality of life are related not only to social harmony and stability, but also to smooth social transition and sustainable financial security (Hua, 2008; Lin, Zhao, An, Li, & Shen, 2009). In this study we examined the processes of adaptation undertaken by CNs to find a meaningful and livable space in urban life, in a context of social and economic pressures.

CNs' adaptation process to new living conditions, referred to as social adaptation (Shen, 2010), city adaptation, or city social adaptation (Sun, 2008), entails social identity reconstruction and gradual adjustment to urban life in terms of living environment, interpersonal relationships, and work environment practices and prospects. However, most Chinese researchers (see, e.g., Bao & Ye, 2011; Fan, 2008; Nue, Lin, Zheng, Ding, & Peng, 2008) have focused on social adaptation among students, children with special needs, prisoners, migrant workers, and soldiers, rather than CNs. Individuals' adaptation to special circumstances has been found to have situational specificity and to be closely related to their living environment (X. D. Zhang, 2011; Zhou, Zhang, Tan, & Huang, 2008). Scholars focusing on student groups have shown that social adaptation has different connotations at different education stages, such as at primary and secondary school levels, compared to at university (Bao & Ye, 2011; Fan, 2008; Nue et al., 2008). Liu (2005) examined a group of young offenders undertaking obligatory work programs in their community and found that social adaptation embodies five steps: preparation for reinsertion and adapting to the notion of community, work adaptation, compliance with the law and social norms, interpersonal satisfaction, and interpersonal trust. Similarly, Wong and Earl (2009) studied retirees' adaptation and found that individual and organizational factors effectively predict retirement adaptation, whereas social psychological factors have no significant influence on retirees' adjustment and subsequent patterns of behavior.

These studies of immigrant or emigrant experiences may inform researchers' examination of Chinese CNs. For example, J. Zhang and Goodson (2011) examined international students' adaptation to social life in America and found that predictive factors include psychological characteristics, emergency situations, acculturation stress, physiological characteristics, life satisfaction, and sociocultural adaptation. However, J. Zhang and Goodson did not include all factors that impact on the social adaptation of economic migrants. …

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