Recession and the politics of class and production in China

William Hurst*, Christian Sorace

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

The article begins by analyzing the historical evolution of "class ideology" in China, especially since 1978. Next, it turns to the concrete effects of the recent and ongoing recession on the Chinese working class. It finds that the crisis affected rural-urban migrants far more substantially than it did workers in the formal (mostly state-owned) urban sector. While this situation presents numerous challenges (for the central state, a crisis of legitimacy; for the local state, a crisis of managing social unrest as well as providing welfare; and, for the workers, a crisis of survival), it also creates opportunities for new conceptualizations and practices of class-politics. In conclusion, we discuss the nascent articulation of a few of these opportunities in labor-union activity, protests, and emergent rights-awareness, and legal consciousness among workers, as well as the implications for China's model of economic development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)509-524
Number of pages16
JournalNew Political Science
Volume33
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2011

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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