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Understanding the Triangle: State, Labour and Welfare in China since 1990s

  • 25 Oct 2017

    Dr. P K Anand, Research Associate, ICS

    Venue: Conference room, ICS
    Time: 3:00 PM

Abstract
China’s economic transformation guided by market reforms will soon complete four decades. Among the various areas and sectors brought under the umbrella of reforms, two key areas are welfare and labour. From the guaranteed employment and ‘cradle to grave’ welfare benefits disbursed by work units under the ‘Iron Rice Bowl’ system, to introduction of material incentives, changing industrial relations and encouragement of non-state actor, diversity in sources of funding and commercialization of services, the employment-based welfare in China has undergone a metamorphosis. The increased role for market goes together with destatification, or the reduction of the state’s direct regulatory role in labour and social welfare. Resemblances have been with the model of ‘Productivist Welfare’ in East Asia, where welfare - subordinated to economic growth – becomes residual or minimalist. Furthermore, the reforms and diversification in industrial production brought about flexibilization and informalization of labour relations, with non-full time, temporary, seasonal and casual work gaining ground. The precarious nature of work and working conditions also sharpened the conflicts between workers and enterprise managements in China. The rising number of labour protests poses serious challenges to the party-state.

This presentation is based on the speaker’s doctoral thesis on social welfare/social security of workers in China’s Small and Medium Enterprises, post 1980s, which tries to understand how the Chinese state under market reforms is responding and repositioning itself vis-à-vis the working class. Beginning with the 13th Congress of the Communist Party of China in 1987, which asserted the non-negotiability of economic reforms, and ending with the promulgation of the Labour Contract Law in 2008, the study examines the Chinese party-state’s policy responses and approaches towards social welfare. Examining the impact of the party-state’s changing priorities following the market reforms and analyzing the conditions of workers in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), it studies the binding factors in the relationship of state and welfare in China. It also seeks to understand the change(s) in the nature of welfare and the state in China since the commencement of the reforms. The doctoral research was also enriched by fieldwork carried out in select SMEs.

About the Speaker
Dr. P.K.Anand
 is a Research Associate at the Institute of Chinese Studies. He holds a PhD in Chinese Politics from the Centre for East Asian Studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Awarded in June 2017, his doctoral thesis is titled 'Market Dynamics and State Responses in China: Social Welfare and Industrial Workers, 1987-2008'. He also completed his M.Phil from the same centre in 2008. He has majored in Politics (with specialization in International Relations) from the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University in 2006. He completed a two-year India-China comparative project on funded by ICSSR on Labour Relations and Welfare in Small and Medium Enterprises in Mumbai and Wenzhou. He was also a Visiting Fellow at the Harvard-Yenching Institute, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA with a ten month research stint from August 2016-May 2017.

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