Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Lu Zhang -- Globalization, Market Reform, and the Politics of Labor in the Chinese Automobile Industry

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

5 p.m.

McKinney Conference Room

"Globalization, Market Reform, and the Politics of Labor in the Chinese Automobile Industry," with Lu Zhang

The rapid rise of China to become the world’s largest automobile producer and market made newspaper headlines at the end of 2009. A wave of auto manufacturing strikes rocked China shortly in the summer of 2010. Why is labor unrest arising in the Chinese automobile industry at a time when the industry is burgeoning as China becomes the new epicenter of the global automobile production? Who are the current generation of Chinese autoworkers? What are the sources, extent and nature of their grievances and bargaining power? How will the recent labor upheavals in the Chinese auto industry unfold? And what forces and mechanics are in play? Based on twenty months fieldwork and 300 in-depth interviews in seven automobile factories in six Chinese cities between 2004 and 2011, this study seeks to answer these questions by combining an ethnographic study of Chinese autoworkers with a multilayered sociological analysis of how of how shop-floor, national, and global processes interact in complex ways to produce the specific labor relations and dynamics of labor unrest in the Chinese automobile industry. It develops a dynamic framework that might allow us to understand in a nuanced way the evolving state-labor-capital relations and the major transformations now taking place in China’s labor front and social-economy. 

Reception to follow

Location: McKinney Conference Room, Watson Institute, 111 Thayer Street