Shifts in state mission and the historical production of proletarian oblivion

Stream: Chinese social policy
Date: Monday, 9 September 2019
Time: 11.30 am – 12.30 pm


In this talk I position the genesis of the abjection of China’s urban-registered, once-workers within the history of the country’s transition away from its socialist past. Impoverishment of the former working class thereby becomes a shorthand emblem of the transformation the country has experienced to date. I accomplish this by pointing to three junctures at which the eventual fate of the members of the old, socialist urban labor force was gradually sealed, their customary, superior standing unraveled. These times were 1978, 1997 and 2002, each the moment of a critical convocation of the Chinese Communist Party; in succession at these occasions, first an economic, then a political and finally a social blow was dealt to the wallets, the dignity and the habitus of China’s socialist-era laborers. The paper spells out this argument.


Dorothy Solinger (Presenter), University of California
Dorothy J. Solinger is Professor Emerita of Political Science at the University of California, Irvine. She has authored six books, including 'Contesting Citizenship in Urban China' (1999) (winner of the 2001 Joseph R. Levenson prize of the Association for Asian Studies for the best book on 20th century China), 'States’ Gains, Labor’s Losses' (2009), and 'Chinese Business Under Socialism' (1984). She has also edited or co-edited another six books, including (co-edited with Nina Bandelj) 'Socialism Vanquished, Socialism Challenged: Eastern Europe and China, 1989–2009' (2012), and published nearly 100 articles and book chapters. Her most recent publication is her edited book 'Polarized Cities: Portraits of Rich and Poor in Urban China' (2019). Her current work is on the urban poor and the assistance program for its members.