Introduction to Section 3: Migrant Networks and Service Labour

By Brett Neilson

In China the intersection of creative industries and migrant networks occurs on three fronts. First, the renewal of urban districts as creative clusters leads to the displacement of populations and threatens their established cultures. Second, the inflow of rural migrants to China's urban centers provides much of the workforce that fuels growth in the creative sector. The real estate speculation that accompanies the expansion of the creative economy requires rapid construction of buildings and infrastructure. This is made possible by cheap migrant labor. Third, the creative workforce has become more cosmopolitan with an influx of young people from Europe and North America seeking economic opportunity, adventure, or just the chance to build and partake in a hip scene. To understand the political and economic constitution of the creative industries, it necessary to ask how these three forms of migration, which often are seen as separate, interrelate and shape each other.