Giovanni Arrighi in Beijing: Rethinking the Transformation of the Labor Supply in Rural China During the Reform Era

In “Giovanni Arrighi in Beijing:  Rethinking the Transformation of the Labor Supply in Rural China During the Reform Era,” Hao Qu and Zhongjin Li use a Marxian political economy perspective to analyze the formation of the reserve army of labor in China during the reform era, which began in 1978. Building from the work of Arrighi, and critiquing the highly influential Lewis model, Qu and Li show how the formation of an industrial reserve army in China has been an historical process in which the state has played an active role.

Abstract

This article uses a Marxian political economy perspective to analyze the formation of the reserve army of labor in China during the reform era, which began in 1978. Following the methodology in Giovanni Arrighi’s seminal 1970 article, we seek to show that the formation of an industrial reserve army is a historical process in which the state played an active role. The Marxian historical method is empirically more relevant than the Lewis model in understanding the surplus labor question in China.

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