What Comes Next After Socialism in China? Communist Neo-Traditionalism Twenty Five Years After


Won Jaeyoun (Yonsei University; HYI Visiting Scholar 2011-12)

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Abstract: The transformation of labour and unemployment in China raises a question of “What was socialism and what comes next.”  This paper attempts to answer this question for China by looking at the unemployment policy changes before and after the reform. I employ Walder’s classic work, Communist Neo-Traditionalism, to discuss the nature of work and welfare prior to reform. I discuss three “caring” features of labour relations prior to the reform; 1) the state enterprise (Danwei) as a small welfare state; 2) organizational dependence between workers and their superiors; and 3) Maoist emphasis on political education.  Then I attempt to address three new “daring” characteristics of unemployment practice in the process of dismantling the old socialist workfare, the Iron Rice Bowl; 1) Massive Unemployment; 2)From Organizational Dependence to Self-Reliance; 3) Ideology still matters: Persistence of Political Education and Thought Work. I argue that the current unemployment policy is a combination of both new and old, neo-liberal market rationality combined with old socialist ideological work

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