The Powerless in Contemporary China: News Representations of Rural Women and Female Migrants
China is celebrating the 35th anniversary for economic reform. It is a good time to re-visit political and sociocultural implications of the state's neoliberal globalization. Mil-lions of rural women have migrated to cities. The migration provides cheap labor force for neoliberal economic development. Also, plenty of women stay in rural areas. To reveal power structures and social problems these women face, this study conducts an analysis of news representations of rural women and female migrants. This project adopts content analysis and discourse analysis to study news reports selected from a commercial newspaper. It addresses how rural and migrant women appear across dif-ferent news topics, how news associates rural and migrant women with social groups and how frequently rural and migrant women appear as news sources. It further ana-lyzes the construction of meanings and values, and hegemonic ideology and power relations embedded in news discourses. News underrepresentation of female migrant workers neglects their complex subjectivities and gender politics in life situations. News constructions symbolically marginalize rural women and female migrants in ur-banization and modernization. Although news media sustain market values and patri-archal and hierarchal power relations, they reveal certain social problems and inequali-ties from which rural women and female migrants suffer. Voices of these women dis-play their struggles and construct their subjectivities. The study reveals oppressive political and cultural conditions in which rural and migrant women live. Although the state propaganda promotes its socialist legacy, it normalizes neoliberal ideology and prioritizes economic development over social justice and equality. The patriarchal state and neoliberal market subordinate and mar-ginalize rural women. Rural women's migration does not fundamentally change their disadvantaged positions in political and sociocultural relations. News media have the potentiality to reveal disadvantaged situations of powerless women, and to draw pub-lic attention, which could possibly leads to social change.
female migrant workers