Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version

Spring 2013

Thesis Advisor

Jaesok Kim


This paper examines the effects that changes in the Chinese government’s methods of labor control have had on rural migrant workers in the Guangdong province. The situation of rural migrant workers in China resembles that of foreign migrant workers in other countries, because institutional barriers such as the hukou (household registration) system prevent rural migrants from becoming permanent residents of cities and reduce them to second class citizens with limited benefits. By employing ethnographic data from anthropological field research among migrant workers in paint factories in the cities of Shenzhen and Zhuhai, this paper discusses how neoliberal labor control has created self-reliant migrant workers. Neoliberal labor control is represented by the gradual relaxation of rural-to-urban migration restrictions and propaganda movements that promote neoliberal discourses. Drawing from the Foucauldian concept of governmentality, the paper argues that neoliberal labor policies facilitate exploitation because they allow the government to reduce state welfare for rural migrant workers living in cities while at the same time mitigating the potential for unrest.

Included in

Anthropology Commons



Date Posted: 08 June 2016


To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.