Youth work, prosocial behaviour, and micro-foundation of working-class solidarity in China

Despite the large number of working-class students having to work while attending schools, their work experience and the potential of class solidarity have been largely unaddressed. By bringing in a social psychological perspective, this article revives the sociological debates of working-class solidarity and challenges the defeatist view of solidarity since the neoliberal turn of the global economy. This article comprises two studies. In Study 1, a working-class solidarity measure (WCSM) was developed through interviews, followed by factor-analysis of a vocational school sample in China (n = 509). In Study 2, we validated the factor structure of the WCSM and adopted structural equation modeling to show that prosocial behaviour positively predicted solidarity among vocational school students (n = 2534). Contrary to the understanding that the working-class is divisive and fragmentary, our work shows that working-class solidarity can be built and consolidated through layers of prosocial behaviours by students with work experience.

About the speaker
Ngai Pun is Chair Professor in the Department of Cultural Studies, Lingnan University, Hong Kong. She obtained her PhD from SOAS, University of London. She was honoured as the winner of the C Wright Mills Award for her first book ‘Made in China: Women Factory Workers in a Global Workplace’ (2005), which has been translated into French and Chinese. Her co-authored book, ‘Dying for iPhone: Foxconn and the Lives of Chinese Workers’ (2020) has also been translated into German, French, Italian, Spanish, Polish and Chinese. She is the sole author of ‘Migrant Labor in China: Post Socialist Transformation’ (2016, Polity Press), editor of seven book volumes in Chinese and English. She has published widely in leading international journals such as Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, Cultural Anthropology, Dialectical Anthropology, Mobilities, positions, Sociology, British Journal of Sociology of Education, Sociological Review, Work, Employment and Society, Modern China, China Quarterly and China Journal, etc.