Existing scholarship on marginalised academics is mostly western-based and concerned with inequalities caused by class, gender and/or racial and ethnic differences. This article adds to this literature by highlighting how inequalities caused by the urban-rural divide in China adversely impact on the academic trajectories of rural-origin academics from impoverished backgrounds. To mitigate such inequalities, the 26 interviewed academics drew on their academic capital to achieve institutional and geographic mobilities, both within and beyond China. Such educational mobilities further allowed these scholars to convert into and accumulate economic, social, cultural and symbolic capitals (after Bourdieu). Importantly, their rural-origins and disadvantaged positioning had cultivated in them a productive habitus that is characterised by hard work, perseverance and self-discipline. Such a habitus played a pivotal role in orchestrating their academic ascension and upward social mobility. However, despite these successes, this article also reveals these academics’ perennial financial struggles in lifting their rural-based families out of poverty, and the exclusive nature of educational mobilities, which are manifestations of systemic structural inequalities caused by urban-biased policies.
Xu, C. L. (2020). Tackling rural-urban inequalities through educational mobilities: rural-origin Chinese academics from impoverished backgrounds navigating higher education. Policy Reviews in Higher Education, 4(2), 179-202. https://doi.org/10.1080/23322969.2020.1783697