From the perspective of development, this article examines the power relations among local states, capital, and migrant laborers that shape the making of proletarians/semi-proletarians in two famous garment manufacturing areas, Humen in the Pearl River Delta and Pinghu in the Yangtze River Delta. It emphasizes the distinct forms of association in the daily production process of workers against the exploitation by capital and the control of states embedded in two different power relations. In Humen, a high proportion of external investment in the garment industry and lack of local authority regulatory resources, accompanied by highly mobile migrant workers without local hukous, undermines the foundation of daily association in production. Migrant workers generally work with subcontractors and "vote with their feet." In Pinghu, the historical heritage of collective economies enhances the control of local authorities over both labor and capital, which has led to the full proletarianization of garment industry workers. Meanwhile, embedding deeply in local communities empowers local workers to associate in cooperative production teams and negotiate with capitalists collectively, resulting in a relatively higher payback. Both forms of imperceptible daily struggles generate transformation of labor institutions in the two areas.


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pp. 19-49
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