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Reforming Asian Labor SystemsEconomic Tensions and Worker Dissent$
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Frederic C. Deyo

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780801450518

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801450518.001.0001

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Political Tensions of Reform

Political Tensions of Reform

Labor Opposition and Public Disorder

Chapter 8 Political Tensions of Reform
Reforming Asian Labor Systems

Frederic C. Deyo

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines the political tensions and instabilities associated with economic reform in China, South Korea, Thailand, and the Philippines. It discusses the labor politics of reform by focusing on regulatory contestation by groups of workers who variably share the circumstances of particular labor systems, and who seek collectively, and sometimes in concert with other groups, to influence policies affecting the adequacy and security of their economic livelihood. Before assessing the nature and role of labor politics in regulatory change, the chapter considers the foundational, structurally determined conflicts that drive labor opposition. It then explores six strategies employed by workers to influence labor regimes and social policy: trade union activism; social-movement unionism; labor-oriented nongovernmental organizations; broad popular-sector social movements; engagement with labor-friendly political parties; and the generalized threat of social disorder. It also challenges a union-centric view of Asian labor politics that too often marginalizes the role of labor through its failure to embrace a broad range of modalities of labor influence.

Keywords:   economic reform, labor politics, workers, labor systems, social policy, trade union activism, unionism, nongovernmental organizations, social movements, social disorder

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