China Beat Archive


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July 2, 2010 in The China Beat


Copyright 2010. Used by permission.


Studies of labor in China have taken an exciting turn in recent years with the publication of numerous rich and revealing portraits of workers, their jobs, and their place in Chinese politics and in the global economy. As thousands of migrant workers employed in auto parts suppliers for Toyota and Honda went on strike in May and June of 2010, some headlines heralded a political coming of age for China’s migrant workers. While it’s too early to assess the impact of these strikes, it is clear that migrant workers have gained a level of organizational sophistication and political awareness to make demands for higher wages, better working conditions, and in some cases, elections for union representatives. All of the books cited below offer readers who are new to the field of Chinese labor some perspective in which to understand the strikes of 2010 and the broader place of Chinese labor in the contemporary politics and society of China.