Risk and Resilience Among Rural Migrant Workers in Mainland China During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Post COVID

Risk and Resilience Among Rural Migrant Workers in Mainland China During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Post COVID

Shanshan Hong (University of Malaya, Malaysia), Rosila Bee Mohd Hussain (University of Malaya, Malaysia) and Danny Tze Ken Wong (University of Malaya, Malaysia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7480-5.ch013
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Rural migrant workers are an indigenous population migrated from rural to urban, encountering risks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including social, political, and psychological facets. Through conducting a case study in an eastern city, it is found that economic crisis and mental distress are risks rural migrant workers faced during COVID-19. Social trust and support, self-help, traditional Chinese culture, and volunteerism are presented as resilient among rural migrant workers during COVID-19. Risks persist in post COVID, which are difficulties in job hunting and finding a place to live. However, they still maintain resilience, such as hard-working, enduring hardship, and trust for the future to cope with additional risks. The research findings can reveal further implications for social workers and policymakers.
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COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) is an infectious disease that WHO declared a global epidemic (World Health Organization). This new virus and infection were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, affecting many countries. The surveillance system reported that there are 31,174,627 confirmed cases and 962,613 confirmed deaths worldwide. There are 90,890 confirmed cases and 4,744 confirmed deaths in China, updated by Sep.22, 2020.1. Global leaders are highly concerned about the public health crisis to combat the diverse aspects involving social, economic, political, and psychological effects. With the growth of the epidemic, social problems have become increasingly severe, emphasizing vulnerable and marginal groups addressed by the scholars. Bowleg (2020) argued that COVID-19 revealed disproportionate risks and effects based on structured inequality at intersections of racial/ethnic minority status and class, as well as occupation. According to Valenzuela et al. (2020), equity is suggested to put on the agenda to pay attention to the vulnerable and marginal groups in the COVID-19 Pandemic and a pathway for future improvements. These marginal and vulnerable communities include the disabled, unemployed, HIV/AIDS (Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) patients, SGM (Sexual and gender minority) populations, Opioid use disorders, racial/ethnic minorities. Kantamneni (2020) argued that they are suffering or have experienced disproportionate impacts exerted by COVID-19, especially a much harsher impact on work-related and economic factors.

Resilience is underlined while coping with the current global Pandemic. Polizzi, Lynn and Perry (2020) argued that multiple coping strategies such as behavioral activation, acceptance-based coping, mindfulness practice, and loving-kindness practices could promote resilience and recovery by learning from the past response to mass crises disasters. Prime and Browne (2020) illustrated the centrality of family processes in buffering against risk in the context of COVID-19 and provided promoting resilience through shared family beliefs and close relationships. Building individual and community resiliency, actively cultivating social support, adaptive meaning, and directing prosocial behaviors to reach the most vulnerable are suggested (PeConga et al., 2020). The scholars draw upon the importance of resilience for various groups, especially vulnerable and marginal communities, which may suffer the most severe social and economic results affected by COVID-19. Social groups are differently vulnerable to the harmful effects of crisis and disaster, affecting their ability to cope and exhibit resilience (Ferreira et al., 2020). Therefore, current researches concentrate on marginalized and vulnerable people such as children, frontliners, pregnant and postpartum women, LGBTQ+/SGL2 Elders.

Despite large declines in employment and income, some are also promoted as resilience at the same time (Biddle et al., 2020; Lau et al., 2020; Bentley et al., 2020). They are significant increases in social isolation and psychological distress, changes in household structure, and significant uncertainty about the future arise in Australia, greater confidence in government and the public service, large improvements in social trust, and substantial observance of physical distancing measures (Biddle et al., 2020). Lau et al. (2020) summarized three lessons from the combat with COVID-19 pandemics in Hong Kong and highlighted the role of social work in response to this crisis. From the Somalian context, Bentley et al. (2020) highlighted challenges at the intersections of collective trauma and displacement, also emphasized substantial community resilience experienced in part through faith and social connection. The low-income group is one of the most vulnerable communities affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic, and local resilience is increased in a public emergency with indigenous characteristics. It is meaningful to dig out the local community’s resilience in response to the crisis for further intervention, not only for epidemic disease and public health crisis, but also other disasters and public emergencies.

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