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Areas of Expertise —
Comparative politics, Chinese labor politics, collective action and social movements
Major — Comparative Politics
Minor — International Relations
M.A. Columbia University, B.A. (hon.) Colgate University
How do workers mobilize and engage in collective action in non-democratic societies? The study of labor protest has long been a topic for political scientists, yet most research on the subject has taken place in the United States or Western Europe. Only recently have scholars begun rigorously applying theories of collective action developed in the west to events in non-democratic societies. Yet when doing so, original theoretical assumptions such as the ability to obtain information or organize outside the auspices of the state become problematic.
This dissertation contributes to the growing literature on labor protest in non-democratic states through a study of Chinese intra-national migrant labor protests. It examines changes to state and market structures which provided new openings for both legal and extralegal forms of dispute activity, and the informal social networks which provide the resources necessary to act on these new opportunities.
My findings argue that when structural change creates opportunities for action, individuals may grasp these opportunities even when formal organization is restricted, relying instead on informal links to mobilize resources. Yet rather than material support, access to information is often the crucial resource promoting dispute activity, as financially costly legal options remain prohibitively expensive, and many lawyers avoid labor cases. Instead, low cost information can help workers learn of new dispute strategies, navigate the complex formal dispute resolution process, identify alternative sources of aid, or even connect others with similar disputes. Moreover, nontraditional links between coworkers with no shared background are better positioned to provide such useful information, as they provide a greater pool of knowledge by linking individuals with disparate experiences. Thus, this research provides insight into collective action in non-democracies by examining the critical relationship between information, association, and action.
"Tackling Corruption at its Source: The National Corruption Prevention Bureau," Journal of Chinese Political Science, Vol. 13, no. 3, (2008).
"Engaging the Law: Migrant Workers, Social Networks, and the Chinese Labor Law," in Guo Sujian ed. Challenges Facing Chinese Political Development, (New York: Lexington Books, 2007).
"Chinese Foreign Policy Journals and Changes in Chinese Foreign Policy," RAND Corporation (available upon request).
(with Evan S. Medeiros), "The Impact of WTO Accession on China’s Defense Industry," (available upon request).