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Das neue „Epizentrum weltweiter Arbeiterunruhe“? Klassenzusammensetzung und Arbeitskämpfe in China seit den 1980er Jahren

Daniel Fuchs

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The New “Epicenter of World Labour Unrest”? Class Composition
and Workers’ Struggles in China since the 1980s.


Against the backdrop of a significant rise in workers’ struggles in the People’s Republic of China since the beginning of “reform and opening up” in 1978, this article discusses processes of working class formation and the potential for the emergence of a new labour movement in China. It takes Beverly Silver’s proposition that China is currently becoming the epicentre of class struggle within the capitalist world system as its starting point. Silver’s world-historical and macro-sociological analysis is confronted with findings from ethnographic research undertaken by Chinese labour scholars as well as data collected by the author via qualitative interviews with a variety of labour activists and academics on the specific forms and contents of workers’ struggles in China. Through an overview and contextualisation of labour unrest over the last thirty-plus years, it is firstly shown that the recomposition of the Chinese working class is characterised by specific periods of labour protest with distinct qualitative characteristics. Secondly, it is argued that since the mid-2000s one can see new patterns of strikes, originating in the second generation of migrant workers, which point towards an increasing generalisation of class action. Finally, the article discusses factors that inhibit more stable forms of working class organisation.

Keywords: China, socio-economic transformation, labour movement, Beverly Silver, workers’ struggles, class composition, migrant workers


Schlagwörter: China, sozio-ökonomische Transformation, ArbeiterInnenbewegung, Beverly Silver, Arbeitskämpfe, Klassenzusammensetzung, WanderarbeiterInnen


Bibliographie: Fuchs, Daniel: Das neue „Epizentrum weltweiter Arbeiterunruhe“? Klassenzusammensetzung und Arbeitskämpfe in China seit den 1980er Jahren, PERIPHERIE, 2-2015, S. 303-326.