Review of the Book 'The Chinese Worker After Socialism'

TitleReview of the Book 'The Chinese Worker After Socialism'
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsFriedman, E.
JournalEnterprise and Society
Pagination672 - 674
KeywordsChina, employment, labor relations, layoffs, political economy

In The Chinese Worker after Socialism, William Hurst employs subnational comparison to explain different outcomes for workers in the process of reform of state-owned industry in China. In particular, Hurst provides in-depth analysis of regional variation of the sequencing and volume of layoffs, how the local state attempted to handle unemployment, actual outcomes in re-employment, and the dynamics of worker protest. By taking subnational regions as the unit of analysis, we see that the process of "smashing the iron rice bowl" has not been a unified and coherent project but rather one that has been messy, uneven, and subject to great variation in timing and outcomes. This variation is explained by differences in the political economy of each region.