I love the simple things in life, like cheesesteaks in Philly, New York pizza, and all kinds of street food in Shanghai. While I’ve written about various everyday eats such as jianbing or shengjian bao, cultural sociologist Tricia Wang sees street food from the vendors perspective in her research.
In a recent article on a day in the life of a street vendor, Tricia Wang documents what life is like for the many rural migrants who end up in the big city, trying to grab their share of China’s growing prosperity.
I’ve been living with Li Jie and her family for a few days. She is one of the 200-300 million rural people who have made their way to cities in the hope… I don’t know how to finish that sentence. Usually newspapers finish it with “in the hope of a better life” or “in the hope of securing a job.” Maybe I can finish it by the time I tell you about a day in Li Jie’s life.
There’s a lot more to learn about what life is like for the millions of migrants that are ever present in China’s big cities, and Wang does a great job of painting their lives, from their difficult living conditions to the stress they endure in trying to make good on the family’s investment on their street stall. One of the members of this family is a college graduate, the first from his village to go to a top tier university. Despite his degree, however, he doesn’t feel that he has the necessary connections to land a good job in Shanghai, and so has turned to selling dumplings to start his career.