The Knowledge to Act: Political Process, Informal Organization and the Emerging Migrant Labor Movement in China Open Access
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This dissertation investigates the rise in Chinese labor protests by intra-national migrant workers (nongmingong), a growing demographic of Chinese labor. Through data gathered during 13 months of field research in Beijing, the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta from 2007-2008, I examine Chinese migrant workers expanding opportunities for protest activity, and the factors which help workers act on those opportunities. I show that when opportunities for formal organization are limited, protest activity can be facilitated through informal ties. Different ties however provide difference resources. While native place ties, defined as relationships between family members and individuals from the same hometown often provide material support, this dissertation finds that non-native place ties, links between migrant workers with different backgrounds and experiences, are crucial, and migrants with access to information from non-native place ties are more likely to engage in protest activity. Access to different ties also influences migrant workers' specific protest strategies, as workers with access to information derived from non-native place ties are more likely to engage in non-violent protest. Thus, by focusing on these informal social ties and the support they provide, rather than formal organizational structures, this research adds to our knowledge of Chinese migrant labor protests and protest in nondemocracies and hybrid regimes more broadly.