Introduction: Modes of Domination Over Chinese Migrant Industrial Workers

  • Kaxton SiuEmail author
Part of the Series in Asian Labor and Welfare Policies book series (Series in Asian Labor and Welfare Policies)


This chapter introduces readers to the overarching themes of the book, including the primary goals that the book seeks to address and what I hope readers will take away from reading it. I open the book by focusing on the subjugation model in the studies of Chinese migrant workers and its limitations when examining workers’ everyday life practices outside factory dormitories. I will argue that in order to explore changing modes of domination over Chinese migrant workers over recent decades, it is necessary to adopt a conceptual framework that sees laborers’ work and leisure hours as a unity. Then, I briefly describe the methodology employed in this study.


  1. Bourdieu, P. (1977). Outline of a theory of practice. Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bourdieu, P. (2000). Pascalian meditations. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bourdieu, P., & Wacquant, L. J. D. (1992). An invitation to reflexive sociology. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  4. Burawoy, M. (1985). The politics of production: Factory regimes under capitalism and socialism. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  5. Chan, A. (1998). Labor standards and human rights: The case of Chinese workers under market socialism. Human Rights Quarterly, 20(4), 886–904.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chan, A. (2001). China’s workers under assault: The exploitation of labor in a globalizing economy. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe.Google Scholar
  7. Chan, A. (2002). The culture of survival: Lives of migrant workers through the prism of private letters. In R. Madsen, E. P. Link, & P. Pickowicz (Eds.), Popular China: Unofficial culture in a globalizing society (pp. 163–188). Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.Google Scholar
  8. Chan, A., Madsen, R., & Unger, J. (2009). Chen village: Revolution to globalization. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  9. Chan, A., & Siu, K. (2012). Chinese migrant workers: Factors constraining the emergence of class consciousness. In B. Carrillo & D. S. G. Goodman (Eds.), China’s peasants and workers: Changing class identities (pp. 79–101). Northampton: Edward Elgar Publishing.Google Scholar
  10. Chan, C. K. C. (2010). The challenge of labor in China: Strikes and the changing labor regime in global factories. London, NY: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chan, C. K. C. (2012). Class or citizenship? Debating workplace conflict in China. Journal of Contemporary Asia, 42(2), 308–327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chan, C. K. C. (2013). Community-based organizations for migrant workers’ rights: The emergence of labor NGOs in China. Community Development Journal, 48(1), 6–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chan, C. K. C., & Hui, E. S. I. (2017). Bringing class struggles back: A Marxian analysis of the state and class relations in China. Globalizations, 14(2), 232–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Chan, J. (2013). A suicide survivor: The life of a Chinese worker. New Technology, Work and Employment, 28(2), 84–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Chan, J., & Pun, N. (2010). Suicide as protest for the new generation of Chinese migrant workers: Foxconn, global capital, and the state. The Asia-Pacific Journal, 37, 2–10.Google Scholar
  16. Chan, J., & Pun, N. (2013). The spatial politics of labor in China: Life, labor, and a new generation of migrant workers. South Atlantic Quarterly, 112(1), 179–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Chan, K. W. (1996). Post-Mao China: A two-class urban society in the making. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 20(1), 134–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Chan, K. W. (2010). The global financial crisis and migrant workers in China: ‘There is no future as a labourer; returning to the village has no meaning’. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 34(3), 659–677.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Cheng, T., & Selden, M. (1994). The origins and social consequences of China’s hukou system. The China Quarterly, 139, 644–668.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Chiu, S. W. K., & Lui, T. L. (1994). A tale of two industries: The restructuring of Hong Kong’s garment-making and electronics industries. Environment and Planning A, 26(1), 53–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Chiu, S. W. K., So, A. Y., & Tam, M. Y. M. (2008). Flexible employment in Hong Kong: Trends and patterns in comparative perspective. Asian Survey, 48(4), 673–702.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Choi, S. Y. P., & Peng, Y. (2016). Masculine compromise: Migration, family and gender in China. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Chu, R., Liu, M., & Shi, G. J. (2015). How rural-urban identification influences consumption patterns? Evidence from Chinese migrant workers. Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics, 27(1), 40–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Dooling, A. (2017). Representing dagongmei (female migrant workers) in contemporary China. Frontiers of Literary Studies in China, 11(1), 133–156.Google Scholar
  25. Foucault, M. (1979). Discipline and punish: The birth of the prison. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  26. Franceschini, I. (2014). Labour NGOs in China: A real force for political change? The China Quarterly, 218, 474–492.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Friedman, E. (2014). Insurgency trap: Labor politics in postsocialist China. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Gaetano, A. M., & Jacka, T. (Eds.). (2004). On the move: Women and rural-to-urban migration in contemporary China. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Gallagher, M., Giles, J., Park, A., & Wang, M. (2015). China’s 2008 labor contract law: Implementation and implications for China’s workers. Human Relations, 68(2), 197–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Harvey, D. (2012). Rebel cities: From the right to the city to the urban revolution. London, NY: Verso.Google Scholar
  31. Hobsbawm, E. J. (1996). The age of capital, 1848–1875. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  32. Hui, E. S. I. (2018). Hegemonic transformation: The state, laws, and labour relations in post-socialist China. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Jakimów, M. (2017). Resistance through accommodation: A citizenship approach to migrant worker NGOs in China. Journal of Contemporary China, 26(108), 915–930.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Jessop, B. (2002). The future of the capitalist state. Cambridge, UK and Malden, MA: Polity.Google Scholar
  35. Jessop, B. (2016). The state: Past, present, future. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  36. Kleinman, A. (1999). Experience and its moral modes. In G. Peterson (Ed.), The tanner lectures on human values (Vol. 22, pp. 354–420). Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press.Google Scholar
  37. Lee, C. K. (1998). Gender and the South China miracle: Two worlds of factory women. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  38. Lee, K. M. (1997). The flexibility of the Hong Kong manufacturing sector. China Information, 12(1–2), 189–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lefebvre, H. (1991). Critique of everyday life. London, NY: Verso.Google Scholar
  40. Lefebvre, H. (2004). Rhythmanalysis: Space, time, and everyday life. London and New York: Continuum.Google Scholar
  41. Li, W. (2018). Migration and marital instability among migrant workers in China: A gender perspective. Chinese Journal of Sociology, 4(2), 218–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lu, H., & Pun, N. (2010). A culture of violence: The labor subcontracting system and collective action by construction workers in post-socialist China. China Journal, 64, 143–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Mitchell, D. (2003). The right to the city: Social justice and the fight for public space. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  44. Peng, Y., & Choi, S. Y. P. (2013). Mobile phone use among migrant factory workers in South China: Technologies of power and resistance. The China Quarterly, 215, 553–571.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Perks, R., & Thomson, A. (2016). The oral history reader. London, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  46. Pringle, T. (2017). A class against capital: Class and collective bargaining in Guangdong. Globalizations, 14(2), 245–258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Pun, N. (1999). Becoming dagongmei (working girls): The politics of identity and difference in reform China. The China Journal, 42, 1–18.Google Scholar
  48. Pun, N. (2005). Made in China: Women factory workers in a global workplace. Durham, NC, London and Hong Kong: Duke University Press and Hong Kong University Press.Google Scholar
  49. Pun, N., & Huilin, L. (2010). Unfinished proletarianization: Self, anger, and class action among the second generation of peasant-workers in present-day China. Modern China, 36(5), 493–519.Google Scholar
  50. Pun, N., & Smith, C. (2006). The dormitory labor regime in China as a site for control and resistance. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 17(8), 1456–1470.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Pun, N., & Smith, C. (2007). Putting transnational labor process in its place: The dormitory labor regime in post-socialist China. Work, Employment & Society, 21(1), 27–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Qiu, J. L. (2016). Goodbye iSlave: A manifesto for digital abolition. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Sargeson, S. (1999). Reworking China’s proletariat. Basingstoke, England: Macmillan Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Siu, H. F. (2007). Grounding displacement: Uncivil urban spaces in post reform South China. American Ethnologist, 34(2), 329–350.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Siu, K. (2015). The working and living conditions of garment workers in China and Vietnam: A comparative study. In A. Chan (Ed.), Chinese workers in comparative perspective (pp. 105–131). Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  56. Smart, A., & Smart, J. (2001). Local citizenship: Welfare reform urban/rural status, and exclusion in China. Environment & Planning A, 33(10), 1853–1869.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Smith, C. (2003). Living at work: Management control and the dormitory labor system in China. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 20(3), 333–348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Solinger, D. J. (1999). Contesting citizenship in urban China: Peasant migrants, the state, and the logic of the market. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  59. Standing, G. (2017). The precariat in China: A comment on conceptual confusion. Rural China, 14(1), 165–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Swider, S. (2015). Building China: Informal work and the new precariat. Ithaca: ILR Press, an imprint of Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  61. Thompson, E. P. (1966). The making of the English working class. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  62. Thompson, E. P. (1967). Time, work-discipline, and industrial capitalism. Past & Present, 38, 56–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Thompson, P. R. (2000). The voice of the past: Oral history. Oxford, NY, England: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  64. Xu, Y., & Chan, C. K. C. (2018). Conductive activism: Anti-sweatshop campaigns across Hong Kong and mainland China. Journal of Contemporary Asia, 48(1), 88–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Yang, Y., & Gallagher, M. (2017). Moving in and moving up? Labor conditions and China’s changing development model. Public Administration and Development, 37(3), 160–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Zhang, L. (2001). Strangers in the city: Reconfigurations of space, power, and social networks within China’s Floating Population. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  67. Zhao, Y. (2003). The role of migrant networks in labor migration: The case of China. Contemporary Economic Policy, 21(4), 500–511.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hong Kong Polytechnic UniversityKowloonHong Kong

Personalised recommendations