Endurance, identity and temporality: ethnic labor market and labor process of Chinese migrant workers in France
【Abstract】Workers in France enjoy strong legal protection for their rights, as well as developed organizational support. However, Chinese migrant workers suffer from adverse working conditions and extreme labor precariousness. However, they rarely turn to legal institutions for help. Nor do they organize themselves in unions. Instead, they choose to endure the exploitation. Based on an ethnographical study of Chinese migrant workers in Paris, this paper investigated the different factors which might influence their preference for resistance strategies. The author then discussed the labor process in the context of international migration. This paper began with an analysis of the typology of exploitation, and later proposed two possible explications for Chinese migrant workers’ preference. Finally, it explored the formation of the migrant worker subject.
【Keywords】 Chinese labor; exploitation typology; labor control; temporality; subjectivity;
(Translated by DUAN yinhong)
. (1) France’s various policies on immigration are not consistent, but full of various contradictions. There are often differences between policies due to different ideas, logic and value orientations which they follow. Among them, the biggest differences are the immigration policy and social security policy. The former takes economic considerations and emphasizes the sovereignty of the country at the political level, while the latter emphasizes universal human rights. [^Back]
. (2) Research and discussion on these aspects are numerous and will not be repeated here. [^Back]
. (3) It is customary in French academia to refer to all people who have migrated from countries or regions outside their country as immigrants, and Chinese students or dispatched people are considered to be part of Chinese immigration. The term Chinese immigrants in this paper takes its narrower meaning, that is, a large group of Chinese immigrants who have migrated to France for political or economic purposes, mainly laborers. [^Back]
. (4) In this classification system, the situation of large-scale Fujian immigrants in France after 2000 is complicated and difficult to generalize. From the perspective of time, Fujian immigrants belong to the newly emerged immigrants. However, from the perspective of immigration patterns, Fujian immigrants can be divided into two categories. Some Fujian immigrants consider France as a transit country. The destination of them is the United Kingdom opposite the English Channel, and this phenomenon is seldom among other Chinese immigrants. Another part of Fujian immigrants have settled in the transit country and set up a business in France or fetched the wife and children who stayed in the country through family reunion to France, becoming family immigrants similar to Wenzhou immigrants. [^Back]
. (5) Regarding the rights of illegal immigrants as workers, some trade union organizations have given a clear explanation and publicity (part of the promotional materials can be found at http://www.cnt-f.org/sam/IMG/pdf/4pages_sans-Papierscoul. pdf), but many illegal immigrants remain completely unaware of their legal rights. [^Back]
. (6) The term position has its methodological significance, emphasizing the relationship of the position of researcher in the field survey. This position is not given by the researcher, nor is it completely given by the interviewee. It is a social role for outsiders that the two sides negotiate in a specific social situation. [^Back]
. (7) The statistical data come from the French National Institute of Statistics and Economics (INSEE). The national census is the responsibility of this official agency. [^Back]
. (8) According to the internal data Social Diagnostic Report, the vast majority of Chinese immigrants come from the coastal city of Wenzhou in Zhejiang Province. This report is a social diagnosis submitted in 2008 for urban renewal of the district. The report uses social survey methods and employs Chinese translators to facilitate communication with Asian families, so the data are credible. However, considering that the survey has been more than ten years, coupled with the phenomenon of “dapu” (搭铺) that is commonly found in Chinese housing (a type of living, see Du, 2014 for details), the percentage of Chinese actually living in Block G should be high. According to the number of names on the mailbox, the author roughly estimates that the proportion is 1/3–1/2. [^Back]
. (9) France implements the minimum wage system, referred to as SMIC for short, and is readjusted on January 1 of each year according to the purchasing power and wage levels of the previous year. In 2017, the minimum wage (gross) was EUR 9.76 per hour. Based on the legal working hours of 35 hours per week, the gross salary was EUR 1480 per month and the net salary was EUR 1153. The monthly wages of the Chinese immigrants interviewed by the author are mostly between EUR 1100–1200. [^Back]
. (10) The main user groups of the forum are Chinese in Europe, of which the Chinese groups in France, Italy and Spain are the most active (http://faguo.huarenjie.com/). [^Back]
. (11) Of course, there is a methodological risk in researching disputes on the Internet. For example, how do we prove that the netizens who speak from the boss’s standpoint are really the boss in real life? How do we verify their social identity? The author believes that the reasons for the exclusion of the Internet water army are as follows. (1) The size of the French Chinese and Economic strength cannot support a specialized Internet water army, and this demand cannot be marketized. (2) The author also referred to information from various channels when conducting online collections on the forum. For example, there is a personal space behind each user ID of the forum. When people click the past, they can view the other party’s activities, diaries, and photos, and see that nearly all users were not newly registered at that moment. And many users’ traces of activities can be seen, such as other posting records, as well as diaries and photos. In addition, those users’ responses are not repetitive but very targeted. In response to the main post or the reply from a certain user, a user can express his or her own opinions and ideas, and the possibility of the Internet water army can be excluded from content. (3) After reading all the replies, the author summarized several discussion directions. Here, the author does not intend to discuss which opinions are dominant, but instead pays attention to the different value logics of these kinds of opinions, that is, how netizens support their opinions. [^Back]
. (12) The decoration industry is mainly composed of two major economic activities. One is interior decoration, which includes internal renovation of shops, as well as maintenance and renovation of living spaces. The other is the provision of materials for interior decoration. Due to the large number of Chinese businessmen operating in the building materials sector, in 2010 they established an association, namely, the French-Chinese Construction Industry Federation, in the 93 provinces near Paris (the province of Seine-Saint-Denis where this field is located). [^Back]
. (13) See statistics from the French National Institute of Statistics and Economics (INSEE) in 2006. The percentage of Chinese engaged in handicrafts, businessmen and bosses in France is second only to Brazilians (17%) and Turks (15%), and it is also higher than the average immigration (10%). [^Back]
. (14) According to French law, business owners who hire illegal immigrant workers will face five years in prison and a fine of EURO 15,000 for per employed illegal worker (Article 8256, Clause 2 of the Labor Law). [^Back]
. (15) Legalization here specifically refers to getting a residence permit, obtaining a legal identity, and obtaining a work permit. [^Back]
. (16) This point was mentioned in research of Burawoy (2008/1979) and Shen (Shen, 2008), and paying salaries on time is a prerequisite for hurrying at one’s work or relationship hegemony to proceed smoothly. [^Back]
. (17) The controversial topic is entitled Trial work, learning to work, not paying, that is fraud, exploitation, regardless of identity (http://www.huarenjie.com/thread-3978821-1-1.html). The quoted reply is the 66th one. Some of the formatting issues in this part come from the original text. [^Back]
. (18) The original text of the reply from the second floor was: “The poster can notify the employer. If he really wants to bully people, then the poster will . . . go to the court and sue him on hiring illegal workers without paying them. Under this situation, it is very easy to sue successfully. Then, the boss will pay the price.” [^Back]
. (19) The term ethnic group is used here instead of nationality because the concept of ethnic group is more accurate than the concept of nationality in the context of cross-border mobility, covering a broader scope than nationality. Including the second generation of immigrants is an identification based on culture and immigration history. [^Back]
[America] Burawoy, M. Manufacturing Consent: Changes in the Monopoly Capitalist Labor Process. Li, R. (trans.) Beijing: The Commercial Press, (2008, 1979).
Chen, J. & Liu, Z. The Journal of Humanities (人文杂志), (5) (2010)
Fan, L. Journal of Social Development (社会发展研究) (2) (2017)
[America] Granovetter, M. Embeddedness: Social Network and Economic Action. Luo, J. (trans.) Beijing: Social Sciences Academic Press (China), (2007, 19850)
Guo, Y. 读书, (7) (2002).
Li, X. & Zhou, M. Sociological Studies (社会学研究), (2) (2014).
Liu, J. Youth Studies (青年研究), (1) (2011).
Marx, K. Capital (Vol. 1) in Selected Works of Marx and Engels (Vol. 23, 马克思恩格斯选集). Beijing: People’s Publishing House, (1972)
Qi, X. Sociological Studies (社会学研究), (5) (2011).
Shen, Y. & Wen, X. Chinese Workers (中国工人), (5) (2014).
Scott, J. The Moral Economy of The Peasant: Rebellion and Subsistence in Southeast Asia. Cheng, L. & Liu, J. (Trans.) Nanjing: Yilin Press, (2001, 1976).
Tong, G. Master’s Thesis. Beijing: Tsinghua University, (2005).
Wang, C. 巴黎的温州人:一个移民群体的跨社会建构行动. Nanchang: Jiangxi People’s Publishing House, (2000).
Wen, X. & Zhou, X. Social Sciences in China (中国社会科学), (3) (2007).
You, Z. Sociological Studies (社会学研究), (4) (2006).
Zheng, G., Sun, H. & Wan, X. Sociological Studies (社会学研究), (3) (2015).
Alberti, Gabriella, Jane Holgate & Maite Tapia 2013, “Organising Migrants as Workers or as Migrant Workers? Intersectionality, Trade Unions and Precarious Work.” The International Journal of Human Resource Management 24 (22).
Anderson, B. 2000, Doing the Dirty Work? The Global Politics of Chinese Labor. London/New York: Zed Books.
Anderson, B. 2010, “Migration, Immigration Controls and the Fashioning of Precarious Workers.” Work, Employment and Society 24 (2).
Auguin, Estelle 2010, “Le marché de l’emploi chinois en France: un système social au service de la réussite économique.” In Alain Morice & Swanie Potot (eds.), De l’ouvrier immigré au travailleur sans papiers. Les étrangers dans la modernisation du salariat. Paris: Karthala.
Auguin, Estelle 2018, “L’innovation dans l’industrie du taxi. Les impacts du salariat sur les conditions de travail et d’emploi des chauffeurs de taxi.” Les Cahiers du CRISES HS1801.
Balthasar, M. 2017, Comment le droit du travail belge pourrait-il s’adapter face à une entreprise d’économie collaborative disruptive? Analyse de cas: Uber. (Unpublished master’s thesis). Université de Liège, Liège, Belgique.
Barron, Pierre, Anne Bory, Lucie Tourette, Sébastien Chauvin & Nicolas Jounin 2011, On bosse ici, on reste ici!: La grève des sans-papiers: Une aventure inédite. Paris: La Découverte.
Barron, Pierre, Anne Bory, Sébastien Chauvin, Nicolas Jounin & Lucie Tourette 2014, “Les grèves de travailleurs sans papiers (2006–2010).” In Michel Pigenet & Danielle Tartakowsky (eds.), Histoire des mouvements sociaux en France. Paris: La Découverte.
Beaud, Stéphane & Florence Weber 2010, Guide de l’enquête de terrain. Pairs: La Découverte.
Boltanski, Luc & Laurent Thévenot 1991, De la justification: les économies de la grandeur. Paris: Gallimard.
Braverman, Harry 1974, Labor and Monopoly Capital: The Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century. New York: Monthly Review Press.
Castles, Stephen 2006, “Guestworkers in Europe: A resurrection?” International Migration Review 40 (4).
Castles, Stephen & Godula Kosack 1973, Immigrant Workers and Class Structure in Western Europe. London: Oxford University Press.
Du, Juan 2014, “Habiter entre marginalité et invisibilité: les immigrés chinois en sous-location en banlieue parisienne.” Cahiers de l’Urmis 15 juillet (http://urmis.revues.org/1268).
Ezzy, Douglas 1997, “Subjectivity and the Labour Process: Conceptualising ‘Good Work’.” Sociology 31 (3).
Foucault, Michel 1980, Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings. Edited by Colin Gordon. New York: Pantheon Books.
Gao, Yun & Véronique Poisson 2005a, “Le trafic et l’exploitation des immigrants chinois en France.” Genève: Bureau international du Travail.
Gao, Yun & Véronique Poisson 2005b, “Nouvelles formes d’esclavage parmi les Chinois récemment arrivés en France.” Hommes & migrations 1254.
Granotier, Bernard 1970, Les travailleurs immigrés en France. Paris: La Découverte.
Hall, J. V. & A. B. Krueger 2018, “An Analysis of the Labor Market for Uber’s Driver-Partners in the United States.” ILR Review 71 (3).
Jounin, Nicolas 2010, “Des sans-papiers locaux à la sous-traitance internationale. Trajectoire d’un métier du batiment?: le ferraillage.” In Alain Morice & Swanie Potot (eds.), De l’ouvrier immigré au travailleur sans papiers.Les étrangers dans la modernisation du salariat. Paris: Karthala.
Jounin, Nicolas 2014, “Aux origines des ‘travailleurs sans papiers’. Les spécificités d’un groupe au service d’une identification généraliste.” Revue européenne des migrations internationales 30 (1).
Kahmann, Marcus 2015, “When the Strike Encounters the Sans Papiers Movement: The Discovery of a Workers’ Repertoire of Actions for Irregular Migrant Protest in France.” Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research 21(4).
Luhmann, Niklas 1976, “The Future Cannot Begin: Temporal Structures in Modern Society.” Social Research 43 (1).
Ma Mung, Emmanuel 2005, “Chinese Immigration and the (Ethnic) Labor Market in France.” In Ernst Spaan, Felicitas Hillmann & Ton van Naerssen (eds.), Asian Migrants and European Labour Markets. Abingdon: Routledge.
Ma Mung, Emmanuel 2009, “Le prolétaire, le commerçant et la diaspora.” Revue européenne des migrations internationales 25 (1).
Maroukis, T. 2017, “Migrant Care Workers’ Trajectories in a Familistic Welfare Regime: Labor market Incorporation and the Greek Economic Crisis Reality-check.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 44 (14).
Mercure, Daniel 1995, Les temporalités sociales. Paris: L’Harmattan.
McDowell, Linda, Adina Batnitzky & Sarah Dyer 2007, “Division, Segmentation, and Interpellation: The Embodied laborers of Migrant Workers in a Greater London Hotel.” Economic Geography 83 (1).
McDowell, Linda, Adina Batnitzky & Sarah Dyer 2009, “Precarious Work and Economic Migration: Emerging Immigrant Divisions of Labor in Greater London’s Service Sector.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 33(1).
Milkman, Ruth 2006, L. A. Story: Immigrant Workers and the Future of the U.S. Labor Movement. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
Milkman, Ruth 2011, “Immigrant Workers, Precarious Work, and the US Labor Movement.” Globalizations 8 (3).
Morice, Alain & Swanie Potot (eds.) 2010, De l’ouvrier immigré au travailleur sans papiers: les étrangers dans la modernisation du salariat. Paris: Karthala Editions.
O’Doherty, Damian & Hugh Willmott 2011, “Debating Labour Process Theory: The Issue of Subjectivity and the Relevance of Poststructuralism.” Sociology 35 (2).
Pande, A. 2018, “Intimate Counter-Spaces of Migrant Chinese Workers in Lebanon.” International Migration Review 52 (3).
Paul, A. M. & P. Neo 2018, “Am I Allowed to Be Pregnant? Awareness of Pregnancy Protection Laws among Migrant Chinese Workers in Hong Kong.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 44 (7).
Piore, Michael 1979, Birds of Passage: Migrant Labor and Industrial Societies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Ricoeur, Paul 1985, Temps et récit. Paris: Seuil.
Ricoeur, Paul 1990, Soi-même comme un autre. Paris: Seuil.
Scott, James 1985, Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Scott, James 1990, Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts. New Haven & London: Yale University Press.
Shen, Yuan 2008, “L’hégémonie fondée sur les relations dans l’industrie du batiment.” In Jean-Louis Rocca (ed.), Camille Salgues (trans.), La société chinoise vue par ses sociologues. Paris: Presses de Sciences Po.
Storey, John 1985, “The Means of Management Control.” Sociology 19 (2).
Tapia, Maite & Lowell Turner 2013, “Union Campaigns as Countermovements: Mobilizing Immigrant Workers in France and the United Kingdom.” British Journal of Industrial Relations 51 (3).
Tripier, Maryse 1990, L’immigration dans la classe ouvrière en France. Paris: L’Harmattan.
Wilson, S. & N. Ebert 2013, “Precarious Work: Economic, Sociological and Political Perspectives.” The Economic and Labor Relations Review 24 (3).
Whyte, William Foote 1956, Street Corner Society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Zhou, Min 2010, Chinatown: The Socioeconomic Potential of an Urban Enclave. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.