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Organizing around precarity in China

Howell, Jude (2023) Organizing around precarity in China. In: Fu, Huiyan, (ed.) Temporary and Gig Economy Workers in China and Japan: The Culture of Unequal Work. Oxford University Press, 93 - 117. ISBN 9780192849694

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Identification Number: 10.1093/oso/9780192849694.003.0005


This chapter explores how labour legislation, the official union ACFTU, labour NGOs, and workers organize around precarity to improve labour conditions of migrant informal workers in a changing China. Historically, it traces the shift from employment and livelihood security during the Maoist decades to labour precarity in the post-Mao three key phases: (1) the phase from 1978 to the late 1990s when employment contracting and precarity are seeded, fertilized, and legitimized in law; (2) the phase from the late 1990s to 2011 when contracting and precarity deepen and new ways of protecting and organizing workers emerge, especially under the Hu-Wen administration; (3) the phase from 2012 onwards under Xi’s government, which marks the decline of labour NGOs, the stalling of trade union reforms, and the deepening of digital forms of labour precarity. In conclusion, the chapter considers the prospects for challenging precarity through organized resistance, particularly with respective to new challenges and opportunities arising from the rise of the gig economy.

Item Type: Book Section
Official URL:
Divisions: International Development
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
Date Deposited: 21 May 2024 18:03
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2024 03:33

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