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Manufacturing Hope: The Boss Dream of Young Migrant Workers in Shenzhen

Sun, June 26, 8:30 to 10:20am, Shikokan (SK), Floor: 1F, 104


In the course of my fieldwork I came to see that thinking about their future and asking ‘What’s next?’ was, in a way, the most important everyday ‘labour’ that young migrant workers engaged in. For many young migrant workers, being a factory worker is not their final destination in the migrant journey. Most of them wish to accumulate enough money during their stay to move on, either back to their hometown, a nearby provincial capital or somewhere in Shenzhen, and start up their own business. In short, these migrant workers, due to their dream of ‘being the boss’, while still in the factory are looking for potential cooperation partners for their future business.

Both in the media and in scholarly work young migrant workers were said to possess a low tolerance for stress, not wanting to take on dangerous, dirty, energy‐consuming and humble jobs (Gao 2010). They fall into the group who takes the most expense of China rapid development and enjoy the least fruit from it. What makes them keep faith and continually imaging a bright future? This paper attempts to investigate the way in which individual desires are intertwined into the mode of production and thus the hope of young migrant workers are being manufactured in the factory setting.