The power of informal labor : construction workers' struggle in post-socialist China

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The power of informal labor : construction workers' struggle in post-socialist China


Author: Liang, Zicun
Title: The power of informal labor : construction workers' struggle in post-socialist China
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2015
Subject: Construction workers -- China
Construction industry -- China.
Informal sector (Economics) -- China.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Dept. of Applied Social Sciences
Pages: 257 pages ; 30 cm
Language: English
Abstract: The Chinese reform has brought about a new social structure that is characteristic of capitalist arrangements where accumulation of capital predominates. This is particularly apparent in the construction industry where the system of subcontracting labor has brought about an informalization of labor relations. This arrangement not only undermines workers' bargaining power, but exploits workers in unconscionable ways.This research indicates that workers are never passive victims. Rather, they can construct derivative workplace power, and associational power based on teamwork as well as living community to change the situation confronted. The labor subcontracting system will be transformed as more labor subcontractors join workers in their collective struggle.This research also examines the role of media in reporting and interpreting workers' struggles. In contrast to Jennifer Chun’s proposition regarding the symbolic power of the media, this research proposes that the role of the media in China is twofold. On one hand, by exposing workers’ actions, the media can capture public attention and mobilize local government. On the other hand, the media is constructing a “rule of law hegemony which can also distort workers' action and ignore the underlying structure of the action.

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