Tech Workers and Rising Class Consciousness in China

[english] – This podcast is part of the online discussion series China and the Left.

Tech Workers and Rising Class Consciousness in China | April 17, 2021 | Speaker: JS TAN | Moderation: Kevin Lin

Announcement: For tech workers in China, the practice of 996—working 9am to 9pm, 6 days a week—has been in place for over a decade. But in 2019, after tech workers launched a viral campaign protesting the 996 schedule, the term spread rapidly across the internet and ignited a nation-wide conversation about the punishing working schedules of office workers in China. Since then, tech workers have adopted a new set a vocabulary: words like manong (“coding peasant”), shechu (“society/company livestock”), and dagongren (“worker”) indicate a new class consciousness. Neijuan (“involution”) and moyu (“touching fish”) capture their feeling of diminishing returns and uselessness. Programmers, once regarded as a “professional class”, are now realigning their identity as part of the working class. As the tech sector in China races ahead, producing more billionaires than ever before in China’s history, how can we understand these indicators of rising class consciousness among Chinese tech workers? What forces in the industry have produced these conditions? And what does this say about the tech industry at large?

Sponsors gongchao.orgMade in China Journal, positions politics, and Critical China Scholars.

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