chapter  1
36 Pages

Labour Theory and Practice and the Making of a Market: An Introduction

What is labour? To what extent did the continuous yet contradictory evolution of theoretical understanding in this field affect the process of reform of existing socialism in China from the late 1970s to the early 1990s? Why is the theory of labour so intimately intertwined with the Chinese socialist policymaking process, and why did the ability of public policy to intervene as a regulatory tool in the reality of the labour economy diminish with the passing of time and with the emergence of new, different, and contending interpretations of the labour issue? To what extent is the evolution from a full-employment policy and full state-led allocation to labour market theory and practice the result of conscious policy options rather than merely of the ‘retreat’ of public intervention and the growing importance of ‘market forces’? What does the word ‘labour’ mean at the end of this process and what purpose does this meaning serve?