Manufacturing Towns in China: Governance, Space, and Conveyance of Rural Migrants to the Assembly Line
Gong, Yue Ray
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With respect to the current unprecedented Chinese industrialization and urbanization in human history, this dissertation studies three themes: rural migrants, governance, and manufacturing towns. It identifies the few studies of the themes on the scale of towns and villages, especially non-factory areas--town and village centers, and rural migrants' living zones--as well as about the history of manufacturing towns. Thereby it focuses on examining the governance of rural migrants as ongoing resources of cheap labor in non-factory areas. To collect data, the author conducted 11-month ethnographical field studies in Dongguan, which symbolizes "the world's factory" and consists of a sizable migrants' population. My research methodology refers to an analytical frame based on Michel Foucault's governmentality and Nikolas Rose's interpretation of governance. This analytical frame highlights that local authorities--local governments, village collectives, and industrialists--practice their governmentalities through implementing various governing technologies as tools and accordingly shaping spaces in order to govern rural migrants. This dissertation argues that the governance of rural migrants in non-factory areas acts as several "invisible filters" corresponding to different spaces of non-factory areas, reinforcing the effect of rural labor supply and industrialists' governance in factories. These "invisible filters" screen some rural migrants for inclusion as qualified factory labor and excludes the rest. This strengthens the treatment of rural migrants as ongoing resources of factory labor during the reform period. The screening mechanism of "invisible filters" is the local authorities' heterogeneous conduct for dividing, segregating, examining, policing, selecting, reaching, cultivating, and finally organizing rural migrants while accordingly shaping the spaces of manufacturing towns. As a result, local authorities absorb a few high-suzhi (quality) rural migrants who are young, docile, devoted, skilled, and higher educated into advanced factory programs while demanding a large number of rural migrants, who are unskilled and low-educated, and must be young, docile and healthy, as cheap labor. In addition, local authorities exclude the rest of rural migrants as "dangerous personnel" whom these authorities perceive to harm social stability and manufacturing production potentially. In contrast, rural migrants are not simply obedient and may resist the governance by applying their own techniques. Besides self-organized and individual resistance directly against authorities and their governance, rural migrants can choose to produce their peasants' identities or imitations of urban residents' identities instead of keeping their rural migrants' identities such as strangers, outsiders, and "blind flow". Thereafter, they resist the governance through "vote by foot"--desertion of manufacturing industry or towns. In response, local authorities must change the governance accordingly. Through the reform era, the three research themes have been transforming with respect to constant interaction between local authorities' governance and rural migrants' resistance.
- Urban planning