Atomized Incorporation: State-Labor Relations in Contemporary China

Sungmin Rho, CSCC postdoctoral fellow
| CSCC Conference Room, Fisher-Bennett 345


The Chinese regime has experienced an increasing number of labor protests that involve migrant workers since the mid-2000s. This talk addresses why the Chinese regime has growingly become tolerant of the protests and whether the increased protest behavior of migrant communities reflects the state's failure to manage social conflicts.

Based on quantitative and qualitative evidence collected during an eighteen-month fieldwork, the study argues that the Chinese government's efforts to depart from the export-oriented growth model has created new incentives for local officials in developed coastal provinces to tolerate migrant workers' protests. While migrants' participation in workplace-based protests is not going to threaten the regime's political stability in the short-run, the growing social and political grievances of migrants can become a source of political unrest in the longer run.