Students and Scholars
Corporate Misbehaviour

Year Month

Unfinished Proletarianization: Self, Anger, and Class Action among the Second Generation of Peasant-Workers in Present-Day China

As a result of its open-door policies and 30 years of reform, China has become the “world’s factory” and given rise to a new working class of rural migrant workers. This process has underlain a path of (semi-)proletarianization of Chinese peasant-workers: now the second generation is experiencing dagong, working for a boss, in industrialized towns and cities. What is the process of proletarianization of peasant-workers in China today? In what way does the path of proletarianization shape the new Chinese working class? Drawing on workers’ narratives and our ethnographic studies in Shenzhen and Dongguan between 2005 and 2008, this study focuses on the subjective experiences of the second generation of dagongmei/zai, female migrant [...]

A Culture of Violence: The Labor Subcontracting System and Collective Action by Construction Workers in Post-socialist China

This article aims to study the culture of violence embedded in the rapidly changing construction industry and to explore how it induces serious collective action among the construction workers in post-socialist China. The political economy of the construction industry has shaped a specific labor use system – a labor subcontract system. The system is a highly exploitative one which was once forsaken in the socialist period but which has now been reborn in the reform period. As a new product of capital, this labor system illustrates two processes: the rapid commodification of labor through pre-industrial social relations organized by a quasi labor market in the rural villages; and the subsumption of labor in the production process of the construction [...]

Dying Young: Suicide & China’s booming economy

st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } Author: Jenny Chan, SACOM Advisor

The Role of the State, Labour Policy and Migrant Workers’ Struggles in Globalized China

The financial crisis of 2008 brought many changes to the world economy with China seeming to stand out as one of the countries best able to weather the storm. There is a general belief that this is because China has a strong state which has reshaped the role of China in the new international division of labour and has the ability to resume its economic development internally. Our study of labour policy and workers’ struggles tells a different story. We argue that the state-driven process of economic globalization has created a new million-strong working class in China. A paradoxical phenomenon is that this state-driven process in economic globalization has been accompanied by a state retreat process in the areas of social reproduction and social protection. [...]

Radicalisation of the New Chinese Working Class: a case study of collective action in the gemstone industry

The repositioning of China as a ‘ world workshop’ rests upon the nurturing of a new Chinese working class. This article focuses on questions of collective action of migrant workers who are now the major force of a new working class that actively strives to alter its fate through labour struggles. By studying the collective actions of migrant workers in the gemstone industry, we examine a process in which workers’ resistance has developed from a single means to multiple means, from single-factory to cross-factory participation, from engaging only in legal action to launching varied collective action. Three primary questions are raised: first, what forms of collective labour action have arisen and what are their mechanisms of mobilisation? [...]