From Iron Rice Bowl to Informalization
Markets, Workers, and the State in a Changing China
Publication Year: 2011
In the thirty years since the opening of China's economy, China's economic growth has been nothing short of phenomenal. At the same time, however, its employment relations system has undergone a gradual but fundamental transformation from stable and permanent employment with good benefits (often called the iron rice bowl), to a system characterized by highly precarious employment with no benefits for about 40 percent of the population. Similar transitions have occurred in other countries, such as Korea, although perhaps not at such a rapid pace as in China. This shift echoes the move from "breadwinning" careers to contingent employment in the postindustrial United States.
In From Iron Rice Bowl to Informalization, an interdisciplinary group of authors examines the nature, causes, and consequences of informal employment in China at a time of major changes in Chinese society. This book provides a guide to the evolving dynamics among workers, unions, NGOs, employers, and the state as they deal with the new landscape of insecure employment.
Published by: Cornell University Press
Title Page, Copyright
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Chapter 1Introduction and Argument
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Thirty years of economic reform in China have produced economic growth unparalleled in terms of its speed, longevity, and geographical spread (Brandt and Rawski 2008); has lifted millions out of poverty; and has increased GDP per capita from $224 in 1978 to $3,180 in 2008. It has also transformed China from one of the most egalitarian societies in the world to one of the most unequal ...
Part IInformalization and the State
Chapter 2The Informalizationof the Chinese Labor Market
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The Chinese urban labor market has experienced a substantial diversifi cation of ownership types. The most striking change was the rapid decline of the state and collective sectors. According to offi cial employment statistics published in the China Statistical Yearbooks, employment in the state-owned enterprise (SOE) sector, which had actually grown in absolute number from 1990 to 1994, fell at ...
Chapter 3Legislating Harmony
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In March 2006, the NPC opened a thirty-day period of public comment on the then-draft Labor Contract Law (passed in June 29, 2007). The increas-ingly frequent process of public comment on draft laws is touted as part of the NPC “mass line” in legislation, part of its new commitment to public par-ticipation and social voice in the legislative drafting process (“Mass Line for ...
Chapter 4Social Policy and Public Opinionin an Age of Insecurity
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Scholars have commonly turned to Karl Polanyi’s double movement para-digm to interpret the development of welfare policy in China (Wang 2008; Lee 2007; Polanyi 1957). In this view, the introduction of market forces into labor relations in the 1990s led to social dislocation and impoverishment for large portions of the labor force, to protests fueled by demands for subsistence wages ...
Chapter 5Enterprise Reform and WageMovements in Chinese Oil Fieldsand Refi neries
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As Mary Gallagher, Ching Kwan Lee, and Sarosh Kuruvilla (chap. 1 in this volume) point out, there has been a qualitative transformation in labor relations in China since the mid-1990s. The state has led a process of deconstructing socialist labor relations to facilitate the commodifi cation of state-owned pro-ductive assets and human resources. The structure and ownership of fi rms were ...
Chapter 6The Paradox of Labor ForceDualism and State-Labor-CapitalRelations in the ChineseAutomobile Industry
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The rapid rise of China to become the largest automobile-producing na-tion and market in the world made newspaper headlines at the end of 2009. Despite the extensive interests in the booming Chinese automobile industry, little attention has been paid to the 2.9 million Chinese autoworkers who are making those headlines. These workers are the focus of this chapter. Most exist-...
Chapter 7Permanent Temporariness in theChinese Construction Industry
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One well-documented consequence of Chinese economic growth has been the dramatic increase in the number of migrant workers who have moved from rural areas to the urban ones in search of jobs. The 2000 census estimated the total migrant population at roughly 144 million people, representing 12 percent of the total national population and 25 percent of the total working population ...
Part IIIUnions, NongovernmentalOrganizations, and Workers
Chapter 8“Where There Are Workers,There Should Be Trade Unions”
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The growing informalization of the Chinese labor market (Mary Gallagher, Ching Kwan Lee, and Sarosh Kuruvilla, chap. 1 in this volume) has not only deeply affected workers but also seriously challenged the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), the single offi cial workers’ organization in China. The extreme diffi culty of organizing informal workers had resulted in a signifi -...
Chapter 9The Anti-Solidarity Machine?
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The increase in insecurity and informalization of the Chinese workforce described in this volume has not happened without opposition from work-ers acting independently (see the May 2010 wildcat strikes in Honda plants), unions (as Mingwei Liu, chap. 8 in this volume, demonstrates), and other civil society agents such as labor friendly organizations. Labor-related nongovern-...
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This volume elucidates the evolving tensions among three forces: the market (exemplifi ed by the strategies of state-owned enterprises and private employ-ers), the state (the central government and the party as well as local govern-ments), and the Chinese working class (including workers, labor unions, and civil society). The future of informalization in China depends on the continu-...
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Notes on Contributors
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Page Count: 248
Publication Year: 2011
Series Title: Frank W. Pierce Memorial Lectureship and Conference Series