Class and Patriarchal Relations in Shekou: A Structurationist View
Siu-Mi Tam(Department of Anthropology, Chinese University of Hong Kong)
This paper uses a structurationist approach in discussing different forms of social relations that are significant to women workers in Shekou Industrial Zone, Shenzhen, China. The constraints and resources affecting individuals come from various sources and constitute a complex environment in which workers as knowledgeable agents move. These include the structuration of class in the workplace and in the larger society of Shekou Industrial Zone (SKIZ), and the formation of salient regional groups in the workers’ everyday locales of activities. Exploitative measures at the workplace have been re-introduced by multinational corporations through the connaivance of the industrial zone authorities, building on traditional Chinese patriarchy. Docile submission by female workers to authority in the workplace and in the family, and women’s view of themselves and marriage, all point to the tight grasp of patriarchal gender relations. Within this frame of reference, women workers constantly reformulate their value orientation and calculate the prospects of a self-chosen career and marriage. A sense of insecurity is keenly felt as a result of being torn by all these forces.
Women, Workers, Structuration, Special economic zones