Labor-related civil society actors in China: a Gramscian analysis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Focusing on labor non-governmental organizations and labor lawyers, this article examines the class roles of China’s labor-related civil society actors (CSAs) in migrant worker resistance. This article calls into question the intuitive sentiment in scholarship that by engaging in collective labor actions, China’s CSAs are axiomatically advancing worker interests. It builds on criticism of the mainstream approach towards civil society and on Gramsci’s insights on civil society and organic intellectuals to construct a typological spectrum to evaluate labor-related CSAs. Based on in-depth interviews, participant observations, and documentary research, this article contends that China’s labor-related CSAs can be classified as unqualified organic, semi-organic, or organic intellectuals of workers, hinging on their commitment and ability to 1) challenge the kind of common sense associated with capitalist economic relations; 2) challenge the kind of juridico-political common sense the state reproduces; 3) construct a kind of good sense and enhance workers’ class consciousness and political consciousness; and 4) build up workers’ collectivity, spur workers to take concerted actions and engage in system-transforming initiatives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-74
Number of pages26
JournalTheory and Society
Volume49
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

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civil society
labor
China
worker
intellectual
workers' consciousness
worker's interest
concerted action
political consciousness
class consciousness
economic relations
migrant worker
participant observation
lawyer
Labor
Civil Society
criticism
Workers
commitment
ability

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this

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Labor-related civil society actors in China : a Gramscian analysis. / Hui, Elaine Sio ieng.

In: Theory and Society, Vol. 49, No. 1, 01.01.2020, p. 49-74.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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