State and Laid-Off Workers in Reform China: The Silence and Collective Action of the Retrenched, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

State and Laid-Off Workers in Reform China

The Silence and Collective Action of the Retrenched, 1st Edition

By Yongshun Cai


208 pages

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In the 1990s, the Chinese government launched an unprecedented reform of state enterprises, putting tens of millions of people out of work. This empirically rich study calls on comprehensive surveys and interviews, combining quantitative data with qualitative in its examination of the variation in workers' collective action. Cai investigates the difference in interests of and options available to workers that reduce their solidarity, as well as the obstacles that prevent their coordination. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, this book explores the Chinese Government’s policies and how their feedback shaped workers’ incentives and capacity of action.


'Cai's book has made a valuable contribution to our understanding of opportunity constraints that conditioned laid-off workers responses to the restructuring of SOEs. It would be useful not only for those who study the changing labor relations in China's economic transition, but also for those who are interested in popular contention and collective action in general.' - The China Review, Vol 7, No.1

Table of Contents

Contents Figures and Tables Acknowledgements Abbreviations 1. Introduction 2. The Ending of a Socialist Contract and Retrenchment 3. Retrenchment and Laid-Off Workers’ Responses 4. Fragmentation and Collective Action 5. Management and Worker Silence 6. Government and the Prevention of Worker Resistance 7. Collective Action of Chinese Laid-off Workers 8. Conclusion Appendix Bibliography

About the Author

Yongshun Cai is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Social Science at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

About the Series

Routledge Studies on China in Transition

The spectacular economic development of China has raised many questions about its future. China in Transition participates in the intellectual developments by focusing on social, political and cultural change in the China of the 1990s and beyond. Drawing on new research from scholars in Asia, Australia, North America and Europe, this series is invaluable in monitoring reform and interpreting the consequences for China, its neighbours and the West.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Social Policy
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies