Enhancing Social Support for Migrant Families: A Case Study of Community Services in a Shanghai Urban Village and Implications for Intervention

Wen, Y.; Hanley, J. (2015)

Asian Social Work and Policy Review

10(1) | 76-89

Recent years have witnessed the growing emphasis of the Chinese central government to develop community services as a method of building communities and strengthening social solidarity. With the increased involvement of multi‐generation households in China’s internal rural‐to‐urban migration, however, little is known about what community services are available for migrant families. Nor do we know much about how such services can enhance social support for migrants, which is crucial for their psychological well‐being in managing the ongoing challenges that arise from migration and further integration into cities. This article presents a case study conducted in Shanghai where social services are emerging in a few urban villages. We begin with a brief background on China’s rural‐to‐urban migration and the emergence of urban villages, followed by a discussion of community services and social support for Chinese migrant families. We then document existing services in an urban village to explore how they can influence migrant families’ social support. Drawing on the perspective of service providers, we highlight the effects social work interventions can have on improving social support for migrant families. Finally, we propose an intervention framework based on multi‐dimensions of social support, emphasizing an integration of formal and informal social support through community services for migrant populations.