Made in China

Made in China : Women Factory Workers in a Global Workplace

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Description

As China has evolved into an industrial powerhouse over the past two decades, a new class of workers has developed: the dagongmei, or working girls. The dagongmei are women in their late teens and early twenties who move from rural areas to urban centers to work in factories. Because of state laws dictating that those born in the countryside cannot permanently leave their villages, and familial pressure for young women to marry by their late twenties, the dagongmei are transient labor. They undertake physically exhausting work in urban factories for an average of four or five years before returning home. The young women are not coerced to work in the factories; they know about the twelve-hour shifts and the hardships of industrial labor. Yet they are still eager to leave home. Made in China is a compelling look at the lives of these women, workers caught between the competing demands of global capitalism, the socialist state, and the patriarchal family.Pun Ngai conducted ethnographic work at an electronics factory in southern China's Guangdong province, in the Shenzhen special economic zone where foreign-owned factories are proliferating. For eight months she slept in the employee dormitories and worked on the shop floor alongside the women whose lives she chronicles. Pun illuminates the workers' perspectives and experiences, describing the lure of consumer desire and especially the minutiae of factory life. She looks at acts of resistance and transgression in the workplace, positing that the chronic pains-such as backaches and headaches-that many of the women experience are as indicative of resistance to oppressive working conditions as they are of defeat. Pun suggests that a silent social revolution is underway in China and that these young migrant workers are its agents.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 240 pages
  • 152 x 235 x 14.22mm | 354g
  • North Carolina, United States
  • English
  • 6 photos, 5 tables, 2 figures
  • 1932643001
  • 9781932643008
  • 473,409

Back cover copy

""Made in China" is a passionate, engaged ethnography. Pun Ngai provides us with a searing critique of how global capital, with the collusion of the Chinese state, is turning China into the sweatshop of the world. Her ethnography is a moving and angry description of the lives of young migrant women, who are the guts of this process. Through Pun's ethnographic eye, these women come alive as active subjects who confront the pain and trauma of the social violence inflicted on them in a complex poetics of transgression."--Lisa Rofel, author of "Other Modernities: Gendered Yearnings in China after Socialism"
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Table of contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

1. State Meets Capital: The Making and Unmaking of a New Chinese Working Class 23

2. Marching from the Village: Women's Struggles between Work and Family 49

3. The Social Body, the Art of Discipline and Resistance 77

4. Becoming Dagongmei: Politics of Identities and Differences 109

5. Imagining Sex and Gender in the Workplace 133

6. Scream, Dream, and Transgression in the Workplace 165

7. Approaching a Minor Genre of Resistance 189

Notes 197

References 205

Index 219
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Review quote

"Superb. . . . [Pun Ngai's] book exemplifies the strength, flexibility, and also limitations of neo-Marsixt sociology. -- Robert Skidelsky * New York Review of Books * "A remarkable book. . . . A vivid and persuasive first-hand account of life in China's factories in the late 20th century. . . . Anyone who cares about East Asia today, and tomorrow, should read [this book]." -- Bradley Winterton * Taipei Times * "Pun is at her best when delving beyond the surface to recount working women's attempts to impose meaning on a depreciated existence. . . . Poignant and enlightening is the author's effort to understand how women contest the brutal impositions of paid labor." -- Patricia Fernandez-Kelly * Signs * "Anyone concerned with the contemporary world economy, not just those with a specific interest in China, should find this book of interest. . . . [T]he book is written in a compelling manner with evident sympathy for the workers, which should make it more approachable to students." -- Alan Smart * American Ethnologist * "A much welcomed addition to the minor genre of studies on discipline, struggle and resistance, in that it returns agency to the worker by highlighting historical contingency, returning subject status to the post-Maoist Chinese female worker." -- Vera Leigh Fennell * Pacific Affairs * "Made in China is an important inter-disciplinary contribution to the body of literature on women workers. Development practitioners will find the rich empirical data, which corroborate some field reports, useful to shape policy. The book raises serious issues about the development path that China has embarked upon, and although Pun Ngai frequently emphasises geographic specificity, it will resonate with development studies scholars focusing on other regions of the world." -- Anibel Ferus-Comelo * Gender and Development * "Right now, anything that happens in China's economy affects all of us. Pun Ngai's book should be required reading. It is jam-packed with richly drawn and provocative insights mined from her fieldwork as a 'factory girl' in the midst of South China's migrant workers."- Andrew Ross, author of Low Pay, High Profile: The Global Push for Fair Labor "Made in China is a passionate, engaged ethnography. Pun Ngai provides us with a searing critique of how global capital, with the collusion of the Chinese state, is turning China into the sweatshop of the world. Her ethnography is a moving and angry description of the lives of young migrant women, who are the guts of this process. Through Pun's ethnographic eye, these women come alive as active subjects who confront the pain and trauma of the social violence inflicted on them in a complex poetics of transgression."-Lisa Rofel, author of Other Modernities: Gendered Yearnings in China after Socialism
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About Pun Ngai

Pun Ngai is Assistant Professor in the Division of Social Science at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. She is coeditor of Remaking Citizenship in Hong Kong: Community, Nation, and the Global City and the founder and chair of the Chinese Working Women Network, a grassroots organization of migrant women factory workers in China.

For more information regarding the Chinese Working Women Network, please click here.
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Rating details

99 ratings
3.59 out of 5 stars
5 16% (16)
4 42% (42)
3 28% (28)
2 10% (10)
1 3% (3)
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