Drawing on multiyear ethnographic research, Minhua Ling offers an incisive account of the segmented inclusion and unequal citizenship facing millions of migrant youths in fast-changing Shanghai. She explains the historical and institutional factors that shape the “in-betweenness” of migrant youth (p. 16), who are caught in the deep divide between aspiration and reality in late socialism. Specifically, despite the ongoing reform of China's migration policy, internal migrants continue to be considered “peasant workers” in formal classification. This second or even third generation of youths—“the inconvenient generation,” as Ling calls them—is condemned to live with shifting structures of inequality from childhood to adulthood, making for an uncertain transience.

The book opens with a stunning scene of “noncitizens” in cosmopolitan Shanghai. Without a fixed home address, long-settled migrant families, along with other nonlocals, cluster in cheaply rented quarters on the city's margin. There, even basic amenities are unavailable. Door-to-door express delivery services...

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