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Building China


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Table of Contents

1. Building China and the Making of a New Working Class 2. The Hukou System, Migration, and the Construction Industry 3. Mediated Employment: A City of Walls 4. Embedded Employment: A City of Villages 5. Individual Employment: A City of Violence 6. Protest and Organizing among Informal Workers under Restrictive Regimes 7. Informal Precarious Workers, Protests, and Precarious Authoritarianism Appendix A. Methods, Sampling, and Access Appendix B. List of Construction Sites Appendix C. List of Interviews Notes References Index

About the Author

Sarah Swider is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Wayne State University.


"In Building China, Sarah Swider provides a fascinating, in-depth, and deeply empathetic view into the diverse range of labor structures emerging in modern China. This book makes male migrant construction workers visible, drawing the reader into the complex texture of their daily lives through clear, almost novelistic, prose and extremely rich and persuasive empirical research."-Rina Agarwala, The Johns Hopkins University, author of Informal Labor, Formal Politics, and Dignified Discontent in India "Sarah Swider uses rich ethnographic materials in Building China to investigate a kind of worker rarely studied. Insightfully applying the concept of employment configuration, she investigates some of the mechanisms that push workers into informal employment."-Feng Xu, University of Victoria, author of Looking for Work in Post-Socialist China: Governance, Active Job Seekers and the New Chinese Labor Market "This fascinating book highlights a chilling fact, that the Chinese precariat is the largest in the world. As elsewhere, its characteristics are chronic insecurity, lack of occupational identity, volatile earnings and a loss of rights associated with citizenship. Migrants make up a large part of the precariat, as they do everywhere. The primary question is, Will the Chinese precariat join the precariat in other countries in demanding a new progressive politics driven by its unique combination of circumstances? Building China should be required reading for those interested in how the global class structure is taking shape."-Guy Standing, University of London "With this excellent ethnography, Sarah Swider breaks new ground in China labor research. She shares incredible insights gained while living and working with migrant construction workers and concludes that we need a new way of framing informal work-a concept applicable not just to Chinese construction workers, but to informal work worldwide.Well done!"-Katie Quan, University of California, Berkeley

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