Bao, Zixiao. “Transition to Temporary Labor”, Boston College, 2020. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/bc-ir:108947.
How does the “World Factory” mediate between the rising labor cost and the intensive order fluctuation to maintain its production? While previous studies have focused on the politics of production at workplace and types of flexible employment to explain the effective control of workers and labor cost, this study argues that more attention needs to be paid to the intermediating power of labor market agencies, which has become the organizational forces for establishing informal and nonstandard employment relations. Based on two-month fieldwork at two labor staffing agencies in Shanghai and a yearlong track of changing labor prices in one of the agencies, this study finds that a flexible hiring system based on seasonal production has been established to maximize the adaptability of the manufacturing industry. This recruiting practice, through adjusting economic incentives and obscuring labor contracts, enables the market to relocate workers into different factories as production requires, thereby redistributing the total workforce under labor shortage. While workers consent to these arrangements because of high economic rewards, they also highlight doing temporary jobs as exercising control over their labor power, a strategic tool to detach themselves from the rigorous factory regime.