Activism beyond borders : the study of trans-border anti-sweatshop campaigns across Hong Kong and mainland China

Pao Yue-kong Library Electronic Theses Database

Activism beyond borders : the study of trans-border anti-sweatshop campaigns across Hong Kong and mainland China

 

Author: Xu, Yi
Title: Activism beyond borders : the study of trans-border anti-sweatshop campaigns across Hong Kong and mainland China
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2012
Subject: Anti-sweatshop movement -- China.
Anti-sweatshop movement -- China -- Hong Kong.
Sweatshops -- China -- Prevention.
Protest movements -- International cooperation.
Labor -- China.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Dept. of Applied Social Sciences
Pages: vi, 216 p. : ill. ; 30 cm.
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b2530221
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/6759
Abstract: China's economic reform since the late 1970s and the expansion of global capitalism have turned the country into the biggest "world factory", as well as the biggest "sweatshop". In global supply chains, Chinese workers, particularly migrant workers, suffer poor working conditions and a lack of labor protection. Countering "hegemonic globalization", activists and transnational NGOs participate in a variety of labor rights activism. This thesis looks into trans-border pro-labor activism across the border between Hong Kong and Mainland China, with a specific focus on anti-sweatshop campaigns. A multi-sited ethnographic method is used to document six anti-sweatshop campaigns to strive for better working conditions and fairer labor practices. Using these cases, this study examines the mechanisms and processes of trans-border anti-sweatshop campaigns and networks involving NGOs, student groups, and workers. The study also analyzes how the mechanisms work at a micro level and to what extent they are effective. The author argues that anti-sweatshop activism in Greater China has experienced several evolving patterns from marketplace/consumer-centered to producing-sites-centered, and has moved domestic actors (including workers, students, scholars, media and consumers) "from the margin to the center". Such shifting patterns have catalyzed the formation of a "Mainland-Hong Kong-global" anti-sweatshop network to further address China's labor issues. Trans-border anti-sweatshop activism faces many obstacles such as limited political opportunities and restricted capacity in mobilizing the mass participation of domestic actors. The author further suggests that the potential of such activism lies in the possibilities to build deeper solidarity with workers and to form greater unity with other pro-labor actors and resources.

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