Focussing on the conceptual evolution of precarious labour over the past three decades, this essay provides a genealogy of the notion of precarity. On the eve of the fourth industrial revolution, when precarity has become the norm and fears of a jobless society have alimented a dystopian imaginary for the future, this historical reconstruction seeks to identify those elements that have shaped the material conditions of workers as well as influenced their capacity of endurance in times of growing uncertainty.
Edited by Ivan Franceschini, Kevin Lin, and Nicholas Loubere
The Made in China Yearbook series—published in collaboration with ANU Press—offers original articles in which scholars and activists analyse the latest trends in Chinese labour and civil society. With their unique blend of in-depth scholarly work written in a direct, accessible style, these books allow readers to situate current events and policies in a wider context, and therefore serve as an indispensable reference for international activists, practitioners, and policy-makers.
No expertise comes without constant doubt and a willingness to challenge established truths. Chinoiresie represents our attempt to question some of today’s understandings and certainties about China. It blends the image of a ‘chinoiserie’—a foreign interpretation and imitation of Chinese artistic traditions, a term that over time has come to assume the meaning of a clichè, a stereotypical view of China—with the concept of ‘heresy’—an unorthodox view aimed at challenging a given truth.
This issue includes a series of essays that examine different declinations of precarity experienced by Chinese workers. The contributions explore precarity from both conceptual and empirical points of view, focussing on aspects such as the nexus between precarious work and migration, the contentious relationship between precarity and class, new divisions of labour in the Chinese workplace, the consequences of layoffs in the state sector, and the fallout of the ongoing environmental crackdown.