Atomized Incorporation: Chinese Workers and the aftermath of China’s Rise

Speaker: Sungmin Rho
Venue: Room N401, NYU Shanghai New Bund Campus
Date & Time:
2023-11-7 | 17:30-19:00

Atomized Incorporation examines why the Chinese regime selectively tolerates workers’ collective action within single factories and what this means for the country’s long-term political resilience. Based on two years of in-depth fieldwork, the author demonstrates that labor grievances have become more politicized and finds that the current approach to economic grievance resolutions demobilizes the emergence of labor movements by rewarding those with collective action resources within individual workplaces. Although this limited state of incorporation allows workers to express discontent at wages and working conditions, however, it also denies them the opportunity to make claims about structural problems and does not effectively enhance political loyalty in the long run.

Sungmin Rho is Associate Professor of International Relations and Political Science at The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) in Switzerland. Her research examines the interplay between economic changes and social and political conflicts. Her recent book, Atomized Incorporation, investigates migrant factory workers’ perceptions, beliefs and behavior to uncover the implications of state-labor relations in contemporary China. She also conducts policy-relevant research by collaborating with international organizations such as International Labor Organization (ILO).

Introduction by Xiaojun Li, Associate Professor of Political Science at NYU Shanghai.



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