Monday, November 29, 2021

“The Unmaking of the Chinese Working Class: A Brief History of Inequality in the PRC," December 6 at Pitt.


The University of Pittsburgh's Asian Studies Center will present Teemu Ruskola and his talk “The Unmaking of the Chinese Working Class: A Brief History of Inequality in the PRC" on December 6.
China’s ongoing economic reforms have produced new types of legal, political, economic, social, and familial subjects. The revolutionary political subject of Maoism—“the People”—has been atomized into independent economic subjects responsible for their own welfare outside of work. This has been marked by the abolition of the so-called “iron rice bowl,” or a system of cradle to grave welfare for privileged urban workers, in contrast to exploited rural citizenry who have historically subsidized China’s urban industry. With the contractualization of all labor, even urban workers no longer enjoy a guaranteed share of the benefits of economic development. An earlier politically enforced inequality between city and country is increasingly eclipsed by a society-wide gulf between the rich and the poor, without any necessary geographical correlate. Collectively, China’s rural and urban reforms have resulted in tectonic shifts in the boundaries among the state, the market, and the family. For example, the state has been turning increasingly to the family to re-assume its traditional welfare functions, even as the very reforms that motivate this turn undermine the traditional family itself.
It runs from 4:30 to 5:45 pm in 211 Lawrence Hall or on Zoom; registration is required.