Special Report: The Social Differentiation of Children
Childhood, an Unsolvable Social DimensionBy Camille Salgues
Schooling of rural migrant children in China has been the subject of much attention, in the context of a large-scale, rural-urban migration and of severe limitation in the access to public urban schools for newcomers. Drawing from an ethnographical study of children in a poor district on the outskirts of Shanghai, the article first presents a private school for migrants created in this institutional void, then goes on to describe how schooling is perceived by families through three case studies. Schooling is a social fact, in a genuine Durkheimian sense, the consequences of which are felt in every aspect of children’s lives. Such a description, in turn, is part of a larger attempt to show childhood and its institutions as a full-fledged dimension in the social differentiation of the individuals.