China's New Underclass: Paid Domestic Labour, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

China's New Underclass

Paid Domestic Labour, 1st Edition

By Xinying Hu


208 pages

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This book examines the implications of China’s economic reforms for domestic work and domestic workers. The author examines the factors that give rise to paid domestic work in a socialist economy, and goes on to look at the need for social protection of domestic workers within cities in contemporary China.

Using a socialist feminist approach, the book investigates how China's economic restructuring has deliberately crafted a domestic service sector from the top-down. Through the analysis of the situation of paid domestic labour, it demonstrates how the changes in socialist ideology under a market economy have justified the state’s support for paid domestic labour; the large role of the state in these ideological changes; and how domestic labour is related to economic changes and the market economy itself. The book argues that state’s economic reforms have changed gender and class relations in Chinese society.

Based on interviews with domestic workers, their employers, their social advocates, and government officials, this book examines the economic and social security of domestic workers and provides information about their precarious working conditions that could be improved through public policy. It also explores women’s agency and activism, and the current role of NGOs and trade unions in labour protection.


"Students of international development would particularly benefit from reading this book, which accomplishes its admirable and practical goal of outlining the many challenges and possible remedies which the state and various actors in civil society should consider in addressing migrant domestic workers as members of China’s underclass." - Mei-Ling Ellerman, The Australian National University; The China Journal, No. 68

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Domestic Employment Regimes in China 3. Globalization, Economic Reforms, and Paid Domestic Employment in China 4. Childcare Crisis after Economic Reforms 5. Domestic Labour as Precarious Work in China 6. From Individual Resistance to Unionized Negotiation 7. Establishing Domestic Workers’ Rights

About the Author

Xinying Hu is a Chinese scholar who received her PhD from the Department of Women’s Studies, Simon Fraser University, Canada.

About the Series

Routledge Contemporary China Series

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Gender Studies
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Social Classes