Nostalgia for the Sent-Down Youth Movement (Shangshan xiaxiang yundong 上山下乡运动) is receiving official endorsement in today’s China. To help review the movement academically, this article presents a county-level case study of sent-down youths’ rural experiences from 1968 to 1978. It reassesses the rural lives of the sent-down youth on the margins, those living beyond the city in homes located in county seats and townships. Numbering in the millions, the experiences of these urban youth on the margins contribute to a more nuanced study of the sent-down movement. This research pays attention to the inequalities between privileged and marginal youth that were legitimized by policies, which commonly existed even among those resettled in the same county or village. Supported by either their home cities’ governments or resourceful families, many young migrants had an easier rural life and enjoyed favoritism compared with their marginal peers. As this article reveals, the gaps that existed in various sent-down groups at different levels should be fully exposed.
Tang, Sanjiao. "Urban Youth on the Margins: Inequality in China’s Sent Down Youth Movement." Asia Pacific Perspectives 18, No. 1 (2023) : 1-24