(De)mobilising and (mis)representing ‘youth’ in the Chinese workplace: political dependency, generational subordination and corporatisation in the Communist Youth League

Konstantinos Tsimonis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
259 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) youth organisation, the Communist Youth League (CYL, League), has an extensive grassroots network and approximately twelve million members in public and partially state-owned sectors of the economy, as well as a political mandate to promote ‘youth’ interests at work. This article examines the League’s operation in the Chinese workplace by analyzing qualitative data collected during fieldwork in twelve different sites in Beijing and Zhejiang province. It was hypothesised that as League organisations are under pressure to represent youth-specific demands, their response would be similar to the Trade Unions, which try to simultaneously remain loyal to pro-management Party committees and act as grassroots channels for advocacy. The article finds that League cadres occupy junior positions in political, generational and workplace hierarchies resulting to their multifaceted subordination to more senior power holders present, namely the management, Party Committee and Union leadership. The institutionalised ‘juniority’ of cadres creates strong disincentives for pro-youth employee initiatives and leads to the disarticulation of a distinctive ‘youth’ agenda. This institutional ‘gap’ in workplace representation has direct implications both for the welfare of young employees and for the future of industrial relations in China.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1362-1379
Number of pages18
JournalJOURNAL OF YOUTH STUDIES
Volume20
Issue number10
Early online date31 May 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • China
  • Communist Youth League
  • representation
  • trade union
  • youth

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