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Labor and Differentiation of Sisterhood: A Case Study on Female Migrants in China

Author: HeMingJie
Tutor: JingJun
School: Tsinghua University
Course: Sociology
Keywords: female migrants service studies gender labor process
CLC: D422.6
Type: PhD thesis
Year: 2007
Downloads: 1562
Quote: 1
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This dissertation is a case study on the labor process of female migrants in service industry. The year-long qualitative study was carried out in a large-scale chain restaurant located in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province. How the labor process is organized to facilitate the transformation of labor power into labor? It is a classical question of Marxist labor studies, hence the starting point of this research. Through participant observation on female migrants’daily work, the author integrates gender perspective into Michael Burawoy’s production regime theory, attempting to answer the following questions: (1). What are the work experiences of female migrants in service industry? (2). Which factors have influenced the labor-management relationship and relationships among workers? (3). How female migrants’subjectivity is exhibited through labor process?The paper focuses on the management strategies which result in the split of female migrants working in the same restaurant, especially the differentiation between the“older sisters”and the“younger sisters”. The difference may simply seem to be a matter of age, nevertheless the real reason is the gender construction of age and its distinct consequences on women’s family roles and social responsibilities. On the one hand, it leads to their different responses to the management, the clients and their families; on the other hand, capitalized by the management, it results in differentiations among female migrants in terms of competition of labor power, labor reproduction and dependence, and the distribution of work. Thus comes despotic control on the older sisters and hegemonic domination on the younger sisters, by the restaurant management.For a better understanding of labor studies from gender analysis’perspective, the paper also discusses female migrants’special problems at work in terms of their institutional identity, gender and age. Its concern on the laborer’s subjectivity digs out the fact that the management splits women’s subjectivity through labor process to secure surplus value. Its focus on the inner differences among female migrants has broadened and enriched gender studies. The expanse of migration and the development of service industry in China are structurally interwoven. Sociological study on migrant workers in service industry has significant bearings on the understanding of China’s economic and social changes.

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CLC: > Political, legal > Workers, peasants,youth, women's movement and organization > Farmers' Movement and Organization > Chinese peasant movement and organization > Farmers work
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