Informalization of Labor in Contemporary China

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingChapter in an edited book (as author)Academic researchpeer-review


China has the world’s largest population and today hundreds of millions work in the informal
economy. Chan (2023) analyzes the general features of formal and informal labor; maps working
conditions and how temporary workers (including agency laborers and student interns) resist
and acquiesce to these conditions; and draws on recent research of diverse sectors including
homeworking, construction, service, and the “gig” economy. The discussion section considers
the role of the state in regulating informal employment. Finally, the conclusion summarizes
the consequences of China’s market transformation and reflects on the prospects of stronger
labor and social protections.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Research on the Global Political Economy of Work
EditorsMaurizio Atzeni, Dario Azzellini, Alessandra Mezzadri, Phoebe Moore, Ursula Apitzsch
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages601
Edition1st ed
ISBN (Print)978 1 83910 657 6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023


  • global political economy
  • work
  • labor relations
  • the state
  • informalization of labor
  • China


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