By Ching Kwan Lee

This examine opens a serious viewpoint at the sluggish dying of socialism and the rebirth of capitalism within the world's so much dynamic and populous state. according to notable fieldwork and vast interviews in chinese language fabric, clothing, equipment, and loved ones equipment factories, Against the legislations finds a emerging tide of work unrest commonly hidden from the world's recognition. offering a wide political and monetary research of this exertions fight including fine-grained ethnographic aspect, the publication portrays the chinese language operating category as workers' tales spread in bankrupt nation factories and international sweatshops, in crowded dormitories and distant villages, at highway protests in addition to in quiet disenchantment with the corrupt officialdom and the fledgling criminal process.

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Extra resources for Against the Law: Labor Protests in China's Rustbelt and Sunbelt

Example text

There is another significant way in which workers’ capacity is shaped and limited by how labor power is reproduced, that is, by how workers survive beyond their participation in and dependence on waged labor. Here I find that lingering “socialist” entitlements play a key role in limiting both migrant workers’ and veteran state workers’ capacity to sustain mobilization. Specifically, the birthright of migrant workers with rural household registrations to plots of land in their home villages and the urban housing reform that turned work-unit housing into state workers’ private property are buffers against the nonpayment of wages and unemployment.

Within the same enterprise, seniority, Communist Party membership, gender, and personal ties with cadres determined the distribution of bonuses, training opportunities, housing benefits, and the like. Gender inequalities, for instance, were manifested in pay disparity, occupational and job segregation, and welfare gaps, despite state efforts to increase women’s labor participation rates. 5 If not all workers were treated equally, neither were they merely docile subjects of a totalitarian state.

Labor has turned into an abstract category of social value and a tangible, material, and physical property of human actors, rather than a life process embedded in concrete and personal social relations. 1 Although labor is turned into a commodity in the process of market reform, it is a “fictitious” one. As Karl Polanyi maintained, a full commodification of labor would destroy human life itself. Societies therefore have invariably moved to provide certain forms of protection for labor. 2 Lacking a theory of class formation or mobilization, Polanyi did not explain the conditions for the rise of either of these trajectories of social protection.

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