Post-socialist China has seen extensive labor unrest in the form of strikes, protests, and riots. The party-state has responded, sometimes with greater repression, sometimes with institutional changes to better channel and represent worker interests, and sometimes with both. Manfred Elfstrom’s Workers and Change in China: Resistance, Repression, Responsiveness (Cambridge UP, 2021) explores the feedback loop between citizen unrest and state response, using both extensive fieldwork and statistical analysis of strike locations.
Manfred Elfstrom is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics, Philosophy, and Political Science at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan. Previously, he served as a Postdoctoral Scholar and Teaching Fellow at the University of Southern California’s School of International Relations and a China Public Policy Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation. He received his PhD from Cornell University’s Department of Government. Before entering academia, he worked in the non-profit world, supporting workers’ rights and improved grassroots governance in China.
Recommendations from Professor Elfstrom, reflecting his current interests in learning more about workers and labor activism beyond China: Stoll, Steven. 2017. Ramp Hollow: The Ordeal of Appalachia, explores the economic and political forces that over centuries turned Appalachia from Daniel Boone’s pioneer paradise to one of America’s most deeply impoverished regions. The Labor Action Tracker is a new initiative at Cornell University to collect comprehensive national data on strikes and labor protests in the US.
Host Peter Lorentzen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of San Francisco, where he leads a new digital economy-focused Master's program in Applied Economics. His research examines the political economy of governance and development in China.
Peter Lorentzen is economics professor at the University of San Francisco. He heads USF's Applied Economics Master's program, which focuses on the digital economy. His research is mainly on China's political economy.