From Iron Rice Bowl to Informalization

9780801450242: Hardback
Release Date: 7th July 2011

Dimensions: 156 x 235

Number of Pages: 248

Edition: 1st Edition

Series Frank W. Pierce Memorial Lectureship and Conference Series

Cornell University Press

From Iron Rice Bowl to Informalization

Markets, Workers, and the State in a Changing China

In From Iron Rice Bowl to Informalization, an interdisciplinary group of authors examines the nature, causes, and consequences of informal employment in China at a time of major changes in Chinese society.
Hardback / £34.00

In the thirty years since the opening of China's economy, China's economic growth has been nothing short of phenomenal. At the same time, however, its employment relations system has undergone a gradual but fundamental transformation from stable and permanent employment with good benefits (often called the iron rice bowl), to a system characterized by highly precarious employment with no benefits for about 40 percent of the population. Similar transitions have occurred in other countries, such as Korea, although perhaps not at such a rapid pace as in China. This shift echoes the move from "breadwinning" careers to contingent employment in the postindustrial United States.

In From Iron Rice Bowl to Informalization, an interdisciplinary group of authors examines the nature, causes, and consequences of informal employment in China at a time of major changes in Chinese society. This book provides a guide to the evolving dynamics among workers, unions, NGOs, employers, and the state as they deal with the new landscape of insecure employment.

Contributors: Fang Cai, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; Baohua Dong, East China University of Politics and Law; Mark W. Frazier, University of Oklahoma; Mary E. Gallagher, University of Michigan; Sarosh Kuruvilla, Cornell University; Ching Kwan Lee, UCLA; Kun-Chin Lin, King's College, London; Mingwei Liu, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey; Albert Park, University of Oxford; Yuan Shen, Tsinghua University; Sarah Swider, Wayne State University; Lu Zhang, Temple University

1. Introduction and Argument
Mary E. Gallagher, Ching Kwan Lee, and Sarosh Kuruvilla

Part I: Informalization and the State

2. The Informalization of the Chinese Labor Market
Albert Park and Fang Cai

3. Legislating Harmony: Labor Law Reform in Contemporary China
Mary E. Gallagher and Baohua Dong

4. Social Policy and Public Opinion in an Age of Insecurity
Mark W. Frazier

Part II: Transformation of Employment Relations in Industries

5. Enterprise Reform and Wage Movements in Chinese Oil Fields and Refineries
Kun-Chin Lin

6. The Paradox of Labor Force Dualism and State-Labor-Capital Relations in the Chinese Automobile Industry
Lu Zhang

7. Permanent Temporariness in the Chinese Construction Industry
Sarah Swider

Part III: Unions, Nongovernmental Organizations, and Workers

8. "Where There Are Workers, There Should Be Trade Unions": Union Organizing in the Era of Growing Informal Employment
Mingwei Liu

9. The Anti-Solidarity Machine?: Labor Nongovernmental Organizations in China
Ching Kwan Lee and Yuan Shen

10. Conclusion
Mary E. Gallagher, Sarosh Kuruvilla, and Ching Kwan Lee

Notes on Contributors

Sarosh Kuruvilla is Professor of Comparative Industrial Relations, Asian Studies, and Public Affairs at Cornell University, where he serves as chair of ILR International Programs.

Ching Kwan Lee is Professor of Sociology at the University of California-Los Angeles. She is author of The Specter of Global China.

Mary E. Gallagher is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan and the author of Contagious Capitalism: Globalization and the Politics of Labor in China.

"Kuruvilla et al. chart the journey from employment security—known as the 'iron rice bowl' in colloquial Chinese—to informalization in 10 chapters. This sad tale is standard fare in the global labour studies literature, but the underlying arguments in this book are more nuanced and at times controversial. . . . This book . . . [is a] valuable addition to the Chinese labour relations canon. Kuruvilla et. al. point the way to further research opportunities. . . ."—Tim Pringle, British Journal of Industrial Relations (March 2013)

"This timely volume offers the best empirical analysis of the changing landscape of employment relations in China. It sheds light on the 'hidden abode' of the country's low-cost production: the existence of an ever-growing informal economy that has become a new site of struggle by the workers, activists, employers, and the local and central state actors. The book should appeal to students of China as well as labor scholars in this era of globalization."—Lei Guang, San Diego State University

"From Iron Rice Bowl to Informalization will find an eager readership among scholars and students interested in Chinese politics broadly, in comparative labor relations, and, of course, in China's labor politics and political economy. The international labor policy community (including China's) will find it of high interest, and corporate managers too would do well to take it very seriously."—Marc Blecher, Oberlin College