Jump to content
  • Sign Up

北漂人,外地人,农民 what's the difference?


Recommended Posts

Having spent some time in Beijing, I noticed a lot going on in the street other than the traffic.  On the sidewalks there is a lot of walking, buying, selling, playing and eating happening there.  I'm trying to make it a topic of study, potentially for my thesis.  I recently learned the phrase 北漂的人 (at slow-chinese) so I messaged a Chinese friend in Beijing to ask if the street vendors (selling food, socks, whatever) were generally 北漂 or 北京 people and I got back this interesting response:


路边卖东西的人中有北京人, 也有北漂吧, 不过更多的是外地人。我认识一个在路边卖袜子的北京人, 我喜欢他的袜子。外地人和北漂不一样。北漂有自己的梦想,路边卖东西的人, 很多只是为了钱,他们和北漂不一样。


What I get from this is that the street vendors might be 北京,北漂,外地的人, the majority being the last group.  And while 北漂 have dreams 外地人 are just in it for the money.  So I tried to confirm that whatever their motives these 2 groups are both 农民。 And also, how would she know the difference between them.  Her response:


他们不一定都是农民。 有很多都不是农民。要是不和他们说活, 只是看, 我们很难知道谁是北漂。


I understand these words to mean "northern drifters", "outside people" and "migrants" and would have thought them all to mean generally the same.  However, she seems to attach some feeling to each of these that I'm just not understanding.  My chinese skills are not so good as to get to the bottom of this.  Can anyone elaborate?


Incidentally, she is Beijing people.  Though her grandfather was a "northern drifter".  I often read that urban Chinese have some disdain for rural Chinese coming to the city, maybe this is part of it.  Though I would be a little surprised to hear it from her.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

外地人 just means people not from the place of reference. It is the opposite of 本地人 (as opposed to "内"地人), which means "local people".

农民 means farmer.


According to your friend, 北漂 are people who go to Beijing to make their dreams come true, whatever those dreams may be.


So... she has said that people selling things on the street could be locals or two types of out-of-towners. When you asked if all out-of-towners are farmers, your friend said that there are a lot who are not farmers.

I am curious about what you're studying.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

ok, so "migrant" is not a good translation for 农民。Thanks!


My study programme is titled 'Advanced Urbanism', generally speaking it is the study and design of cities.  The university I am at now, places emphasis on the sociological aspect of it.  At the site of proposed intervention it is important to know who the people are, how they perceive each other and how they interact.


For the second year I will be at Tongji Uni in Shanghai!  So I hope to make my thesis work relevant to China.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My understanding is that 外地人 describes any non-local (from all walks of live, wealthy, poor and average) and that 北漂 describes a sub-set of 外地人 in Beijing who are 'floating in the North' i.e. those who are in Beijing and do not have many opportunities due to lack of a 北京户口,lack of 关系, lack of money, education etc and therefore do low-level jobs, with a lack of stability and probably don't have a stable living environment (hence the 'floating' part) and find it hard to make ends meet. They go to Beijing because despite the lowish social-status they would still have better financials rewards than if they stayed in their home-town as a 农民 (poor farmer), hence the crowding resulting from many people moving to Beijing.


That's my two cents, a Chinese person is best placed to answer this question though!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...