This study focuses on precarious labor, in particular, the experiences of a group of internal migrant women working in a beauty shop in South China. The study aim is to elucidate the ways in which migrant Chinese women negotiate the demands of work and life that help to shape the imaginations and aspirations of modern city dwellers. Women factory workers, it is argued, leave other employment for work in the aspiring Chinese beauty industry, which promises significant facets of modern identity such as urban status, cosmopolitanism, and upward mobility. Their work, nevertheless, remains fundamentally precarious because of not only low wages and limited job security but also the construction and circulation of femininity and assumptions about gender normality in both work and family. The precarious work also indexes the ambivalent relationship between the national affect of hope and the fragility of individual potentiality under neoliberal ethos.
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