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DSA SF Education Committee: Conflict in China Discussion

Thursday, November 04, 2021
6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Event Type:
Alexander Gorelik
Location Details:

The Democratic Socialists of America (SF Chapter)'s Education Committee has invited Eli Friedman as a guest speaker to give a talk on the working class in China. It is important to note that Friedman does not speak for any DSA body, including DSA SF or the DSA SF Education Committee. We simply think Friedman’s research on the working class in China offers a good jumping off point for discussion. Following Friedman’s talk, the floor will be open to discussion. If attendance is high, we will use breakout rooms so everyone has a chance to participate and so the discussion is not dominated by a few voices.

Please share this widely. We hope to see you!

Speaker Bio:

Eli Friedman is Associate Professor and chair of International and Comparative Labor at the ILR School at Cornell University. He is the author of Insurgency Trap: Labor Politics in Postsocialist China (2014) and coeditor of the English edition of China on Strike: Narratives of Workers’ Resistance (2016). He is also the author of the forthcoming book titled The Urbanization of People: The Politics of Development, Labor Markets, and Schooling in the Chinese City.

Description of Friedman’s talk:
The Exploitation and Resistance of China's New Working Class
Over the past forty years, an entirely new working class has emerged in China in tandem with the country's transition to capitalism. Socially and politically distinct from the Mao-era proletarians, these migrant workers have left the countryside in search of wage labor in the cities, and they now constitute an absolute majority of the country's working class. But while the state has gone about institutionalizing a national labor market over the past several decades, citizenship is structured at the level of the city. This means that these migrants are welcomed into the city as a source of cheap labor but denied access to quality public services such as health care and education. This readily exploitable population of nearly 300 million people is the social basis of China's astonishing success at attracting foreign investment, developing profitable enterprises (both private and state-owned), and challenging the US for supremacy of the world capitalism system. Nonetheless, these workers have hardly been complacent in the face of such exploitation as they have quickly learned how to organize and mobilize against capital, even amid the increasingly authoritarian political environment of today's China.
Added to the calendar on Mon, Oct 25, 2021 7:33PM
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