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The neoliberal rise of East Asia and social movements of labour: four moments and a challenge

Chang, Dae-Oup (2012) 'The neoliberal rise of East Asia and social movements of labour: four moments and a challenge.' Interface: a journal for and about social movements, 4 (2). pp. 22-51.

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The celebrated ‘rise of East Asia’ as a centre of global capitalism resulted from the increasing integration of East Asia into the expanding circuit of capital that turned most of the East Asian population into ‘capitalist value-subjects’. This means that the vast majority of East Asian population now have to make and reproduce living at different moments of production, reproduction and realisation of capitalist value. However this integration does not create these new value subjects as a singular and cohesive class of working women and men. Instead, it produces many segmented labouring classes whose livelihoods depend on insecure and oppressive wage employment or a wide range of survival activities for money income in the informal economy. The result is the paradox of East Asian development - the increase of the traditional working class has been marginal in the rise of East Asia as a workshop of the world. This again created a complex condition for social movements of labour. A close look at the current struggles of new value subjects in Thailand, Korea, Cambodia and China reveals that these new value subjects are capable of going beyond the boundaries set up by the previous struggles of organised labour. However, it also tell us that there is a serious disjuncture between the emerging social movements of labour and the existing trade union movement of the ‘industrial working class’ in East Asia. This challenge calls for a reconsideration of the theories and practices of the labour movement that presuppose a process of coherent working class formation.

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Legacy Departments > Faculty of Law and Social Sciences > Department of Development Studies
ISSN: 20092431
Depositing User: Dae-Oup Chang
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2012 09:35
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/14643


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