Working China: Past, Present, and Future

Made in China Webinar Series

What lessons can we garner from the past incarnations of the labour movement in China? What is the predicament of labour activists in the increasingly authoritarian China of today? And what challenges lie ahead for Chinese workers? To answer these questions, the Made in China Journal is hosting a three-part webinar series on the past, present, and future of labour in China. 

  • Lessons from the Past: From the Cultural Revolution to the Spring of 1989

Speakers: Joel Andreas and Yueran Zhang
Date and time: Tuesday, 8 October 2019
(8am San Francisco; 11am New York; 4pm London; 11pm Hong Kong; 2am Sydney the next day)
Register on Eventbrite.

  • The Predicament of the Present: Resurgent Authoritarianism

Speakers: Chloé Froissart and Tim Pringle
Date and time: Tuesday, 29 October 2019
(9am San Francisco; 12pm New York; 4pm London; 12am Hong Kong the next day; 3am Sydney the next day)
Register on Eventbrite.

  • The Challenges of the Future: Robot Threats and Platform Economies

Speakers: Julie Chen and Yu Huang
Date and time: Wednesday, 6 November 2019
(8am San Francisco; 11am New York; 4pm London; 12am Hong Kong the next day; 3am Sydney the next day)
Register on Eventbrite.

If you would like to join us, please confirm your interest by registering on the Eventbrite page of the event you are interested in and we will provide you with a link to attend the webinar. Attendance is entirely free. 

The webinars will also be livestreamed on our Facebook page.

For further information, contact


Joel Andreas is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Johns Hopkins University, and studies political contention and social change in China. His first book, Rise of the Red Engineers: The Cultural Revolution and the Rise of China’s New Class (2009), analysed the contentious merger of old and new elites following the 1949 Revolution. His second book, Disenfranchised: The Rise and Fall of Industrial Citizenship in China (2019), traces radical changes that have fundamentally transformed industrial relations over the past seven decades. Joel’s talk will examine the role of workers in the Cultural Revolution, looking in particular at how the movement was shaped by and helped reshape industrial relations under the work unit system.

Julie Yujie Chen is an Assistant Professor in the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology and the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto, Canada. She studies how culture, technologies, and the established economic structures shape the experience and perception of work in the digital economy. She is the lead author of Super-sticky WeChat and Chinese Society (2018). Julie will discuss labor issues related to China's platform economy, particularly concerning ride-hailing and food-delivery platforms.

Chloé Froissart is an Associate Professor in political science at the Department of Chinese Studies, University of Rennes 2, and an associate researcher at the French Centre for Research on Contemporary China in Hong Kong. She was Director of Tsinghua University Sino-French Centre in Social Sciences in Beijing from 2014 to 2018. Her research interests include citizenship studies, civil society with a focus on labour and environmental politics, labour movement, and trade union reform in China. She is the author of La Chine et ses migrants. La conquête d’une citoyenneté (2013). Chloé will discuss the rise and fall of labour NGOs in the Pearl River Delta and their changing strategies to defend migrant workers’ rights.

Yu Huang is an anthropologist of China and now a Postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Sociology, The University of Hong Kong. Her research interests include industrial automation and robotisation, labour studies, vocational education, science and technology studies, and agrarian change. Yu will discuss how industrial automation and robotisation affect Chinese migrant workers employed in small and medium enterprises.

Tim Pringle is a Senior Lecturer in Labour, Social Movements and Development at SOAS University of London and Editor of The China Quarterly. He has been an activist trade unionist since starting work and is currently a union rep for the University and College Union at SOAS. His research focuses on labour movements, industrial relations, and trade union reform in China, Russia, and Vietnam. Tim is the author of Trade Unions in China: The Challenge of Labour Unrest (2011) and co-author of The Challenge of Transition: Trade Unions in Russia, China and Vietnam (2011). Tim will discuss labour activism in China through the lens of changing state-society relations. 

Yueran Zhang is a PhD student in sociology at UC Berkeley. He studies the relationship between mass mobilisation and economic policymaking in China between from the 1960s to the 1990s.  Yueran will discuss workers' participation in the wave of pro-democracy movements in 1989 and how workers interacted with students. This discussion will also be situated within the context of societal transformations China went through before and after.

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