Social Ties, Resources, and Migrant Labor Contention in Contemporary China

Social Ties, Resources, and Migrant Labor Contention in Contemporary China : From Peasants to Protesters

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The growth of China's internal migrant labor population is one of the most important issues emerging from the Hu Jintao regime. As China continues to undergo an urbanization process as profound as any in modern history, there is little doubt migrant workers are affecting economic and political decision making at the central and local levels. Relying on interviews with over 250 Chinese migrant workers-peasant farmers who have moved to the cities in search of work-as well as interviews with Chinese labor activists, this book explores the evolution of migrant labor protest in China over the past three decades. It examines how migrant workers engage in protest today, and how they choose from available protest strategies. While past studies of Chinese rural to urban migration have long acknowledged the importance of traditional rural ties between family members, this book demonstrates how new urban ties: *help migrant workers learn of new protest options, *navigate the legal system, *connect with others sharing similar disputes, *and identify additional resources. The book also examines the growth and importance of Chinese migrant labor rights organizations and the role of information communication technology in migrant labor protest activity. The findings presented here shed new light on Chinese state-society relations and economic development. Moreover, the findings from this book, which demonstrate how economic reforms create opportunities for protest, and how migrant workers take advantages of these opportunities, have implications for our understanding of contentious politics in other authoritarian states undergoing similar economic and demographic more

Product details

  • Hardback | 246 pages
  • 154.94 x 228.6 x 22.86mm | 559.99g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 10 black & white illustrations, 23 tables
  • 0739191853
  • 9780739191859

Review quote

This book contributes to a better understanding of the social dynamics of contention and the mechanisms of workers' protest and dispute resolution options. Journal of Contemporary Asia While the number of labor protests in China has rapidly increased in recent years, how the Chinese workers engage in protest is largely unknown. Drawing on the social network perspective and in-depth field work, Jeffrey Becker sheds light on the process of protest by Chinese rural-to-urban migrant workers. The central finding that migrant workers' social ties, being rural or urban, play an important role in shaping protest actions, is interesting and provocative. It's a crucial contribution to our understanding of contemporary labor protest in China. -- Mingwei Liu, Rutgers University Why do some people engage in protest when others in similar situations do not? In this innovative study, based on several years of field work, Jeff Becker explains why some migrant workers in China pursue their grievances while others in the same working conditions and suffering from the same kinds of problems, such as workplace injuries and unpaid wages, do not. He challenges the usual debate on whether formal institutions or cultural values are most important in explaining political behavior. Instead, he finds the answer lies in migrant workers' new social relations and informal channels of communication in their new communities, in particular with legal aid centers and new co-workers. He develops a novel and fascinating argument that will be a must-read for those interested in labor protest and collective action. -- Bruce Dickson, George Washington Universityshow more

About Jeffrey Becker

Jeffrey Becker is a China analyst in the CNA Corporation's China Studies more

Table of contents

Chapter 1: Understanding the Frequency and Form of Chinese Migrant Labor Protests Chapter 2: The Current Condition of Migrant Labor in China: Common Disputes and Strategies for Action Chapter 3: From Wandering Beggars to New Urban Citizens: The Changing Landscape for Migrant Labor Chapter 4: The State, the Market, and Challenges to Institutionalizing Migrant Labor Protests Chapter 5: Mobilizing Resources for Protest: Quantitative Analysis Chapter 6: Social Ties and Labor Protest: Case Study Analysis Chapter 7: Technology and Migrant Labor Protest Chapter 8: Social Sources of Support: Migrant Organizations and Labor Activism Chapter 9: Conclusion: Labor Protest in Authoritarian Statesshow more