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Sheehan, Jacqueline (1996) Conflict between workers and the party-state in China and the development of autonomous workers' organizations, 1949-1984. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis is a study of the four main confrontations between workers and the Party-state in China which have occurred since 1949. These confrontations occurred in the years immediately after liberation (1949-1951); during the Hundred Flowers period (1956-7); during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1969), and during the April Fifth and Democracy Wall movements (1976-1981). Each of these periods is usually regarded as a time when intellectuals and students came into conflict with the Party and expressed dissenting views in protest movements of varying severity and extent. It is not well known that the same four periods were also times of crisis in the relationship between workers and the Party. This study aims to examine workers' activities in each of these four confrontations, analysing the issues about which workers were concerned, identifying the political content of campaigns and demands, and in particular, looking at the evidence of workers' attempts to form their own independent organizations. Having traced the development of workers' discontent and protest over a period of forty-five years, it becomes apparent that in fact the issues of greatest concern to workers, the issues which have been at the heart of every major confrontation since 1949, have remained essentially the same. However, workers' protests have developed over the years organizationally. The formation of ad hoc strike committees within a single enterprise in the 1950s developed into the organization of large-scale workers' groups which crossed industrial and geographical boundaries during the Cultural Revolution, and then in the early 1980s independent unions were formed modelled on Poland's Solidarity. This study thus provides the context in which workers' involvement in the Democracy Movement of 1989 can be properly understood, not as an entirely unprecedented event, but as the latest and most severe of a series of crises stemming from the nature of workers' position in China under the CCP.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:16

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