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Laid-Off Workers in a Workers' State: Unemployment with Chinese Characteristics

Overview

Communist parties lead revolutions in the name of the industrial proletariat. But in the course of China’s post-Mao reforms, perhaps no class has experienced downward mobility as steep as the working class. An estimated 30 million of state enterprise workers have experienced xiagang (laying-off), a stop-gap measure short of full unemployment, leaving them in a sort of limbo without the technical or psychological skills to adjust successfully to China’s new marketized, privatized, and globalized economy. In this ...

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Overview

Communist parties lead revolutions in the name of the industrial proletariat. But in the course of China’s post-Mao reforms, perhaps no class has experienced downward mobility as steep as the working class. An estimated 30 million of state enterprise workers have experienced xiagang (laying-off), a stop-gap measure short of full unemployment, leaving them in a sort of limbo without the technical or psychological skills to adjust successfully to China’s new marketized, privatized, and globalized economy. In this book, an international team of scholars explores not only the politics of xiagang, but also the effect on Chinese workers and their families, and the variety of their responses to this unprecedented dislocation in their lives.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“The chapters in this book collectively address a critical juncture in the history of Chinese labor: the mass unemployment that followed the restructuring of state enterprises in the 1990s. Readers will find rich descriptions of the identities and worldviews of those who were once the socialist “masters” of the Chinese factory, as well as careful explanations of the political demands and policy responses that came with their sudden loss of material and social status.”—Mark W. Frazier, ConocoPhillips Professor of Chinese Politics, University of Oklahoma

“Fourteen China experts examine the fate of the thirty million state workers who have been laid off, in the most comprehensive study to date. The relationships between the state and laid-off workers and within the working class turban out to be much more complex and interesting than imagined by conventional wisdom.”—Anita Chan, Australian National University; Author of China’s Workers Under Assault: The Exploitation of Labor in a Globalizing Economy

"The first edited volume in English on this subject, Laid-Off Workers fills several gaps in the existing xiagang research. . . . This book represents an insightful, current, comprehensive, and well-documented study of the laid-off workers in the aftermath of unprecedented enterprise restructuring and privatization in China's economic reforms. It is a valuable addition to the existing literature on social conditions among Chinese working people." —The Jourbanal of Asian Studies

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230613706
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 4/14/2009
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas B. Gold was founding Director of the Berkeley China Initiative and is a member of the Sociology Department at the University of California, Berkeley.

William J. Hurst is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Texas, Austin.

Jaeyoun Won is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea.

Li Qiang is Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Science and Professor of Sociology at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables vii

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction William J. Hurst Thomas B. Gold Jaeyoun Won 1

Part 1 Class Politics

1 Broadening the Debate on Xiagang: Policy Origins and Parallels in History Lei Guang 15

2 Xiagang and the Geometry of Urban Political Patronage in China: Celebrated State (once-) Workers and State Chagrin Dorothy J. Solinger 39

3 Class Formation of Fragmentation? Allegiances and Divisions among Managers and Workers in State-Owned Enterprises Kun-Chin Lin 61

Part 2 Frames and Framing

4 Voices of Xiagang: Naming, Blaming, and Framing Eva P.W. Hung Stephen W.K. Chiu 95

5 The Power of the Past: Nostalgia and Popular Discontent in Contemporary China William J. Hurst 115

Part 3 Workers' Welfare and Reemployment

6 China's Older Workers: Between Law and Policy, Between Laid-Off and Unemployed Mary E. Gallagher 135

7 The Professional Reintegration of the "Xiagang" Li Peilin Zhang Yi 159

Part 4 Explaining the Lack of Contention

8 Farewell to Socialist Labor in China Jaeyoun Won 185

9 State Policies and Chinese Laid-off Workers' Limited Resistance Yongshun Cai 203

10 The Reemergence of Street Protests: State Workers Challenge the Chinese State Antoine Kernen 225

Notes on Contributors 245

Index 249

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