New Masters, New Servants: Migration, Development, and Women Workers in China (Paperback)
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Short Description for New Masters, New Servants An ethnography of class dynamics and the subject formation of migrant domestic workers. It explores what the migrant domestic workers mean to the families that hire them, to urban economies, to rural provinces such as Anhui, and to the Chinese state.
- Published: 13 January 2009
- Format: Paperback 328 pages
- ISBN 13: 9780822343042 ISBN 10: 0822343045
- Sales rank: 466,676
Full description for New Masters, New Servants
On March 9, 1996, tens of thousands of readers of a daily newspaper in China's Anhui province saw a photograph of two young women at a local long-distance bus station. Dressed in fashionable new winter coats and carrying luggage printed with Roman letters, the women were returning home from their jobs in one of China's large cities. As the photo caption indicated, the image represented the "transformation of migrant women". The women's "transformation" was signalled by their status as consumers. "New Masters, New Servants" is an ethnography of class dynamics and the subject formation of migrant domestic workers. Based on her interviews with young women who migrated from China's Anhui province to the city of Beijing to undertake domestic service for middle-class families - and with employers, job placement agencies, and government officials - Yan Hairong explores what these migrant domestic workers mean to the families that hire them, to urban economies, to rural provinces such as Anhui, and to the Chinese state. Above all, Yan focuses on the domestic worker's self-conceptions, desires, and struggles. Yan analyzes how the migrant women workers are subjected to, make sense of, and reflect on a range of state and neoliberal discourses about development, modernity, consumption, self-worth, quality, and individual and collective longing and struggle. She offers keen insight into the workers' desire and efforts to achieve suzhi (quality) through self-improvement, the way the workers are treated by their employers, and representations of migrant domestic workers on television and the Internet and in newspapers and magazines. In so doing, Yan demonstrates that contestations over the meanings of domestic service workers raise broad questions about the nature of wage labour, market economy, sociality, and post-socialism in contemporary China.