Privatization and its discontents in Chinese factories


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82 Citations (Scopus)


Based on fieldwork in a city in central China, this study shows that, with an aggressive implementation of privatization schemes, labour struggles have emerged in which moral economy demands are increasingly permeated by "class consciousness." Privatization activates workers' "class consciousness," an idea that has become embedded in their minds through several decades' immersion in socialist (and anti-capitalist) ideology. For them, anti-privatization is politically defensible. It provides them with motivation, opportunity and an action-frame for class-conscious mobilization in Chinese factories. However, while workers' current efforts to base their demand on socialist rhetoric might be strategic, it seems to have trapped labour struggle in a direction that is unlikely to produce any significant positive outcomes for them, as the transition to the market is irreversible.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-60
Number of pages19
JournalChina Quarterly
Issue number185
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2006

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


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