Alienated Politics: Labour Insurgency and the Paternalistic State in China

Other Titles
Abstract

Is there a labour movement in China? This contribution argues that China does not have a labour movement, but that contestation between workers, state and capital is best characterized as a form of ‘alienated politics’. Widespread worker resistance is highly effective at the level of the firm be-cause of its ability to inflict losses on capital and disrupt public order. But authoritarian politics in China prevent workers from formulating political demands. Despite the spectacular repressive capacity of the state, the central government has in fact responded to highly localized resistance by passing generally pro-labour legislation over the past decade. The consequence of this is that worker unrest has produced important political shifts at the national level, but these have come about without workers’ direct involvement in the process. In other words, workers are alienated from the political object that they themselves have produced. As a consequence, when the state intervenes in labour politics, it appears to be doing so of its own accord, i.e. paternalistically. This framework helps us to understand how worker unrest in China has become highly antagonistic towards employers and the local state, while maintaining the stability of the system as a whole.

Journal / Series
Volume & Issue
Description
Sponsorship
Date Issued
2014-09-01
Publisher
Keywords
China; politics; labor movement; strikes; union democracy
Location
Effective Date
Expiration Date
Sector
Employer
Union
Union Local
NAICS
Number of Workers
Committee Chair
Committee Co-Chair
Committee Member
Degree Discipline
Degree Name
Degree Level
Related Version
Related To
Related Part
Based on Related Item
Has Other Format(s)
Part of Related Item
Related To
Related Publication(s)
Link(s) to Related Publication(s)
References
Link(s) to Reference(s)
Previously Published As
Government Document
ISBN
ISMN
ISSN
Other Identifiers
Rights
Required Publisher Statement: © Wiley. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved. Final version published as: Friedman, E. (2014). Alienated politics: Labour insurgency and the paternalistic state in China. Development and Change, 45(5), 1001-1018. DOI: 10.1111/dech.12114
Rights URI
Types
unassigned
Accessibility Feature
Accessibility Hazard
Accessibility Summary
Link(s) to Catalog Record