China Since Tiananmen: The Labor Movement

Issue Date July 2009
Volume 20
Issue 3
Page Numbers 21-24
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The twenty years since 1989 have brought two major developments in worker activism. First, whereas workers were part of the mass uprising in the Tiananmen Movement, there is today hardly any sign of mobilization that transcends class or regional lines. Second, a long-term decline in worker power at the point of production is going on even as workers gain more power (at least on paper) outside the workplace. New labor laws have broadened workers’ rights and engendered mobilization outside official limits, even as legal and bureaucratic procedures have also atomized and depoliticized labor activism.

About the Authors

Ching Kwan Lee

Ching Kwan Lee is professor of sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and author of Against the Law: Labor Protests in China’s Rustbelt and Sunbelt (2007).

View all work by Ching Kwan Lee

Eli Friedman

Eli Friedman is a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of California, Berkeley.

View all work by Eli Friedman