Roller Skating as a Way into the Big City: a Case Study on Migrant Workers’ Informal Leisure Activities in Guangzhou

Authors: Minhui Lin*, South China Agricultural University, Bing Pan, Department of Recreation, Park & Tourism Management, Penn State University, Alan R Greafe, Department of Recreation, Park & Tourism Management, Penn State University
Topics: Recreational and Sport Geography, Urban Geography, Cultural Geography
Keywords: migrant workers, roller skating, public space, place construction
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Balcony L, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Focusing on roller skating on the streets in Guangzhou, this paper examined the relationship between informal leisure participated by young migrant workers and public space. With basic data collected from non-participatory observation, in-depth interviews and questionnaires, the research used theory of space production to investigate how young migrant workers understand Guangzhou city by embedding roller skating in public space and how roller skating enables their integration into Guangzhou as a big city. The study revealed that facing the marginalization of roller skating, participators adopt a moderate bodily strategy to construct their own informal leisure space and endow public space with new meanings through embodied practice. As a kind of informal leisure activity, roller skating has eventually transformed urban streets into meaningful places for young migrant workers to pursue group belongingness and obtain their identities, where they motivate the subjectivity of their bodies, release physical and emotional pressure and construct relatively stable group relations.

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