By Ching Kwan Lee

ISBN-10: 0520250974

ISBN-13: 9780520250970

This research opens a severe point of view at the gradual demise of socialism and the rebirth of capitalism within the world's such a lot dynamic and populous nation. in line with impressive fieldwork and wide interviews in chinese language fabric, clothing, equipment, and family equipment factories, Against the legislations finds a emerging tide of work unrest often hidden from the world's consciousness. delivering a large political and financial research of this exertions fight including fine-grained ethnographic aspect, the publication portrays the chinese language operating classification as workers' tales spread in bankrupt country factories and international sweatshops, in crowded dormitories and distant villages, at highway protests in addition to in quiet disenchantment with the corrupt officialdom and the fledgling felony method.

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Additional info for Against the Law: Labor Protests in China's Rustbelt and Sunbelt

Sample text

Citizenship is an empty slogan and status, but because it is the language of the state, workers’ banners and petition letters are laced with legal terminology and logic. Yet, sometimes the court does follow the law and incites popular usage of the legal system. Under these circumstances, workers-as-citizens are a political agency in the making; they falter in some places but make headway in others. Every favorable arbitral award or court verdict spawns new desire and aspiration among workers to affirm their labor rights and interests through the legal system.

In short, Chinese workers’ class consciousness exists as a fading relic from the past, and the persistent weakness of workers’ class capacity is not likely to nourish or sustain its development. The most empowering identity workers have found is grounded in one variation of citizenship—citizens’ right to legal justice (gongmin de hefaquanyi). Workers enthusiastically embrace the regime’s project of legal reform and the construction of a law-based, corruption-free government. Statistics of workers filing for arbitration or lawsuits attest to a rise of rights consciousness.

When conflicts arise, migrant workers’ first response was to leverage the only institutional resource available to them—the law and the bureaucratic system of labor arbitration and litigation. Because the judiciary and the labor bureaucracy are not always independent of local state administration, however, frustrated workers who have exhausted their legal options are also prone to take their grievances from the courtrooms into the streets. The ways in which labor power—the capacity to work—is reproduced on a daily and generational basis shape both the potential and the limits of collective mobilization.

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Against the Law: Labor Protests in China's Rustbelt and Sunbelt by Ching Kwan Lee


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