This essay contrasts the scattered resistance of Chinese urban workers to the restructuring of state-owned enterprises at the turn of the century with the long march of migrant workers from victims to subjects. I argue that the “functional authoritarian” nature of the Chinese state and its policy of embracing globalization created the conditions for the defeat of China’s traditional urban working class. Coinciding with this moment has been the gradual emergence of a new movement of labor headed by migrant workers who have taken advantage of structural flaws in China’s development trajectory to pursue collective interests. This movement in the making has demonstrated a capacity to overcome spatial divisions and may even challenge neoliberal globalization itself.
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Tim Pringle; Reflections on Labor in China: From a Moment to a Movement. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 January 2013; 112 (1): 191–202. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-1891323
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