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Cultural and Political Implications of Formation of Chinese ‘New Worker’ Group Identity ― Focusing on ‘Workers’ House(工友之家)’ in Picun, Beijing

  • The Journal of Chinese Cultural Studies
  • 2017, (35), pp.69-94
  • DOI : 10.18212/cccs.2017..35.003
  • Publisher : The Society For Chinese Cultural Studies
  • Research Area : Humanities > Chinese Language and Literature > Chinese Literature > Chinese Culture
  • Received : January 15, 2017
  • Accepted : February 8, 2017
  • Published : February 28, 2017

Jung-Soo Kim 1

1숭실대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper focuses on the formation of the new worker group identity shown in some ‘migrant worker’ groups in China in recent years. It first rejects ‘migrant workers’, the given identity and gives themselves the identity of a ‘new worker(新工人)’. This ‘new worker’ is a self-calling made for the acceptance and recognition of the work (especially manual labor) and life of the ‘new worker’ group as they are, and furthermore for a constructive new identity. The identity of this ‘new worker’ is distinguished from the social status of the workers’ of state-owned enterprises in the socialist era by attaching the word ‘new’ and reemphasizes the meaning and value of labor in the post industrial society with the word ‘labor’. The identity of this ‘new worker’ is not just a one-time declaration, but a cohesive force that proposes a new cultural arts and lifestyle. This paper focuses on the activities of the ‘Workers‘ House’ established in Picun, Beijing(北京皮村). Starting with the first music, poetry and reading activities, an elementary school for children of migrant workers (Tongxin shiyan xuexiao 同心實驗學校) and college for migrant workers (Gongren daxue 工人大學) were founded with the profits of album sales and a cultural arts group that can express their own voice (Xingongren wenhua yishutuan 新工人文化藝術團) and museum containing the history of migrant workers (Dagong wenhua yishu bowuguan 打工文化藝術博物館) were founded. In addition, through the profit activities such as recycling shops (Tongxin huhui shangdian 同心互惠商店) and farms (Tongxin nongyuan 同心農園), the self-reliance of workers and the financial independence of the organization are being planned. The identity of ‘new worker’ is significant in that it provides a venue for gathering the capacity of a new worker group. In addition, the possibilities are still open in that it continues to experiment for independence, solidarity and solidarity of workers through various forms.

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