The author uses a Marxist perspective to analyze changing patterns in migrant worker protests. While a new working class in China has emerged and recreated itself since 1978, today’s labor researchers have mostly rejected the Marxist practice of using the social relations of production as a point of departure for analysis. Instead, Chinese migrant workers’ protests under a capitalist production regime are understood as part of a citizens’ movement. In this paper the author argues that this new approach fails to adequately account for recent changes in migrant worker struggles. He advocates a return to the Marxist tradition to study worker struggle in a specific social, cultural and political context, especially in terms of analyzing the growing number of labor-capital conflicts in both foreign-owned and domestic private enterprises in China.
Keywords: labor, class, conflict, china