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Thomas Sætre Jakobsen works at the Department of Geography, Norwegian University of Science and Technology. He recently defended his PhD in Human Geography, where he focussed on the rural-urban mobility of work and aspirations among migrant labour in Southwestern China. In his research Thomas focuses on the uneven geographies of accumulation, agrarian transformations, social reproduction, and solidarity in China and beyond.

Beyond Proletarianisation: The Everyday Politics of Chinese Migrant Labour

In China as elsewhere, labour studies typically focus on visibility, organisation, and collective endeavours taken on by workers and their organisations to improve the collective situation of the labouring class as a whole. The privileged site for these overt manifestations of labour movement politics remains focussed on urban areas in general, and on manufacturing work in particular. This essay argues that this view is reductive, in that it only takes migrant labourers seriously as political actors once they enter the urban workplace. This risks neglecting the reality of hundreds of millions of workers who live between the farmlands in the countryside and the workplaces of the city.

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