Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, Sociology, Temple University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2006
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Sociology, Johns Hopkins University
Globalization, Market Reform, and Dynamics of Labor Unrest in China, 1980-2005: A Case Study of Chinese Automobile Industry

Over the past two decades, the Chinese automobile industry has grown dramatically, fueled largely by massive foreign investment through Joint Ventures. While the total output exceeded 4 million vehicles by 2003, making China the world's fourth largest automobile producer, the number of employees in the auto sector declined from 2 million to 1.5 million over the same period. This is mainly due to the massive layoffs from many state-owned auto enterprises under China's market reform. Moreover, by the late 1990s, Taylorism and related principles for maximizing profits at the workplace had become generalized practice in major auto enterprises in China. These radical changes can be expected to have a significant impact on labor-management relations in the Chinese automobile industry. The specific aims of this project are: (1) to examine the shop-floor dynamics of labor-management relations and the system of labor control in the Chinese automobile industry; (2) to map forms and the trajectory of Chinese autoworkers unrest during the post-reform era; and (3) to identify the broader local, national and global processes that are influencing the dynamics of labor relations at the point of production. Specific hypotheses on the changing labor relations and dynamics of labor unrest in China are laid out in the proposal and will be assessed through intense fieldwork at five major automobile assembly enterprises across different ownership types and geographic locations in China. I will spend at least two months at each company, visiting production lines, doing direct observations at shop floors, interviewing workers, managers, and factory union staff, and collecting company files. The fieldwork will allow me to develop a rich and concrete picture of shop-floor dynamics of labor control, interactions between managers, formal workers, and temporary workers, and how the labor relations in China have been changed during the last two decades.