SOAS University of London

Department of Development Studies

Is there a labour movement in China?

Tim Pringle (Dept. of Development Studies, SOAS)

Date: 27 November 2012Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 27 November 2012Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: G50

Type of Event: Seminar

The forces of labour in China appear to be on the move. Chinese workers’ (re)emergence as at least partial participants in the course of their own destiny has generated reactions within the country and beyond. Outgoing Party leaders have issued warnings on the need to address China’s wealth gap to head off social unrest. Some critiques of capitalist globalization seem to put considerable faith on South China’s working class leading the resistance to neo-liberalism; while on the other hand, Time Magazine announced ‘the Chinese worker’ as runner up for ‘Person of the Year’ in 2009 – apparently for their contribution to moderating the global recession!  
The seminar will provide an historical and hopefully more nuanced approach to the labour question(s) in China. Current rising levels of militancy will be appraised against traditions of labour activism in post liberation China. Drawing on the expanding literature, his own research and experiences as a practitioner, Tim’s seminar will lead off a discussion on the forces of labour in China: are we seeing (another) moment in the decline of organised labour as a collective agency in the face of globalisation; or the emergence of a movement with the potential to change the course of China’s development path? Indeed, is there a labour movement in China?  

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