Collection: The Mamianqun: Collections

Mamianqun, also known as Ant Tribe, refers to a group of low-income recent college graduates or students who live in cramped conditions in substandard housing in the outskirts of major cities in China.

The term "Mamianqun" comes from the Chinese characters "Ma Mian", which means "ants crawling on the ground". It was coined when the official Chinese media first reported on this phenomenon in 2009. The Mamianqun typically share tiny apartments or even single rooms with several other individuals, and the living conditions are often overcrowded, unhygienic, and lacking in basic amenities such as decent heating, air conditioning, or hot water.


The Mamianqun often work long hours at low-paying jobs or do internships, trying to build a career and move up in the world. But their monthly income is often below the minimum living wage, and they struggle to afford basic necessities such as food, transportation, and medical care. They are usually graduates from non-prestigious universities, with degrees that are not highly valued by employers.

The Mamianqun phenomenon is a result of various factors, including a rapidly growing population, tough competition in the job market, rising living costs, and a skewed education system that places too much emphasis on academic performance, neglecting practical skills and vocational training. The Mamianqun's plight highlights the challenges faced by young people in China, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, to access opportunities and improve their lives.

In recent years, there have been some attempts by the government, NGOs, and private companies to address the Mamianqun's issues. However, the solutions are often fragmented and insufficient. Some initiatives focus on improving the quality of housing, while others try to provide training and job opportunities. But there is still a long way to go to tackle the root causes of poverty and inequality that affect the Mamianqun and many other vulnerable groups in China.