In this study, we examine migrant stigma and its effect on social capital reconstruction among rural migrants who possess legal rural residence but live and work in urban China. After a review of the concepts of stigma and social capital, we report data collected through in-depth interviews with 40 rural migrant workers and 38 urban residents recruited from Beijing, China. Findings from this study indicate that social stigma against rural migrants is common in urban China and is reinforced through media, social institutions and their representatives, and day-to-day interactions. As an important part of discrimination, stigma against migrant workers creates inequality, undermines trust, and reduces opportunities for interpersonal interactions between migrants and urban residents. Through these social processes, social stigma interferes with the reconstruction of social capital (including bonding, bridging, and linking social capital) for individual rural migrants as well as for their communities. The interaction between stigma and social capital reconstruction may present as a mechanism by which migration leads to negative health consequences. Results from this study underscore the need for taking measures against migrant stigma and alternatively work toward social capital reconstruction for health promotion and disease prevention among this population.

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