Blessing or curse? Recontextualizing ‘996’ in China's overwork debate

Ming Liu, Yunqiao Chen

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


This study views the dispute over ‘996’ work schedule (i.e. working from 9 am to 9 pm, six days a week) as a critical discursive moment in the modernization and marketization of China. It argues that behind the dispute lies the hegemonic struggles between business tycoons and the government amidst China's changing business mode. Drawing on the theories of critical discourse analysis, recontextualization, hegemony and interdiscursivity, this study examines the (de)legitimation of ‘996’ by business tycoons and official news media through the appropriation of different discourses to illuminate the hegemonic struggles behind recontextualizing ‘996’. It concludes that when the business tycoons are blatant enough to whitewash overwork as a ‘blessing’, the age-old curse in China starts to befall them.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCritical Discourse Studies
Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 2023


  • Recontextualization
  • hegemony
  • interdiscursivity
  • critical discourse analysis
  • 996
  • overwork


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