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Residential Mobility and Social Capital in Urban Shanghai

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Using survey data of 1200 Chinese adults residing in urban Shanghai, the present study investigates how residential moves are related to the contextual constraints, availability and mobilization of social capital for expressive actions. Our data show that residential mobility may shrink the pool of social capital of traditional sources (e.g., kin- and locality-bound) but does not hamper the activation of social capital. Recent movers and non-movers tend to be equally capable of reaching intimate ties for expressive actions when needed, although the types of activated ties are different. The most important confidant of movers tends to be younger, better-educated, employed, and non-kin-related than that of non-movers. Our results lend support to the community-transformed argument that residential mobility allows individuals to break away from traditional social constraints and gives them freedom to establish social ties of their own choice. The study also highlights the persistent importance of neighbourhoods during the period of rapid urban transformation.


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