Published online by Cambridge University Press: 22 June 2009
In this study, we argue that the specific process of the proletarianization of Chinese migrant workers contributes to the recent rise of labour protests. Most of the collective actions involve workers' conflict with management at the point of production, while simultaneously entailing labour organizing in dormitories and communities. The type of living space, including workers' dormitories and migrant communities, facilitates collective actions organized not only on bases of locality, ethnicity, gender and peer alliance in a single workplace, but also on attempts to nurture workers' solidarity in a broader sense of a labour oppositional force moving beyond exclusive networks and ties, sometimes even involving cross-factory strike tactics. These collective actions are mostly interest-based, accompanied by a strong anti-foreign capital sentiment and a discourse of workers' rights. By providing detailed cases of workers' strikes in 2004 and 2007, we suggest that the making of a new working class is increasingly conscious of and participating in interest-based or class-oriented labour protests.
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6 The factory A data were based on Chris Chan's community-based fieldwork from 2005 to 2006, which was the major part of his doctoral study on industrial conflicts in South China. Data for factory B were collected alongside a dormitory research project led by Pun Ngai from 2003 and joined by Chris Chan at a later stage. Our approach was to study the unique labour regime in China's global factories, starting from the reproduction sphere and extending into the production sphere. We would like to thank our friends and colleagues who shared with us important information which formulated this article.
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19 Chinese workers' right to strike was banned in the Constitution of 1982.
20 Our own translation, September 2007.
21 Our own translation, September 2007.
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