Ching Kwan Lee



Contact Information

Email    cklee@soc.ucla.edu
Office  270 Haines Hall
Phone  310-206-2691
I am a sociologist interested in global and comparative issues

work, globalization, political sociology, development of the global south, comparative ethnography, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, and Africa. One of my current research projects examines the rise of “platform capitalism” in China and its impact on state-capital relation, employment, and workers’ new imaginations of work and working lives. Another on-going project traces the historical trajectories and contemporary forms of grassroots politics in Hong Kong, Taiwan and China.

Previously, I have published three monographs on China, forming a trilogy of Chinese capitalism through the lens of labor and working class experiences. Gender and the South China Miracle: Two Worlds of Factory Women (1998) documents the organization of gender and work in factory regimes in Hong Kong and Shenzhen when South China first emerged as the workshop of the world. Against the Law: Labor Protests in China’s Rustbelt and Sunbelt (2007) chronicles the unmaking and making of the Chinese working class in two regional economies experiencing the death of socialism and the rise of capitalism respectively in one country. The Specter of Global China: Politics, Labor, and Foreign Investment in Africa (2017) follows the footsteps of Chinese state investors to Zambia and compares its relation with African state and labor to other global private investors.



PhD, University of California at Berkeley


 Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University, 2013-14

National Science Foundation Grant, 2010-2013

2008 Sociology of Labor Book Award, American Sociological Association, Labor and Labor Movement Section (for Against the Law)

Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, Member, 2006-7

Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, Fellow 2003-4

Best Book Award, American Sociological Association, Asia and Asian American Section, 1999 (for Gender and the South China Miracle)

Selected Publications


1. The Specter of Global China: Politics, Labor and Foreign Investment in Africa. U of Chicago Press, 2017.

2. Against the Law: Labor Protests in China's Rustbelt and Sunbelt (UC Press, 2007):(Sociology of Labor Book Award 2008, American Sociological Association; finalist for the C. Wright Mills Award, SSSP)

3. Re-envisioning the Chinese Revolution: Politics and Poetics of Collective Memory in Reform China (Stanford U Press, 2007, edited with Guobin Yang):

4. Working in China: Ethnographies of Labor and Workplace Transformation (Routledge 2007, edited):

5. Gender and the South China Miracle: Two Worlds of Factory Women (UC Press 1998) : (American Sociological Association, Asia and Asian American Section Best Book Award 2000; Best Book Award, Labor Section of the Society for the Study of Social Problems, 1999)

6. Reclaiming Chinese Society: the New Social Activism. London: Routledge (Co-edited with You-tien Hsing, 2009)

7. From Iron Rice Bowls to Informalization: Markets, State and Workers in a Changing China. Cornell University Press (Co-edited with Sarosh Kuruvilla and Mary Gallagher, 2011)



"Precarization or Empowerment? Reflections on Recent Labor Unrest in China," Journal of Asian Studies, 75(2): 317-333, 2016.

"The Specter of Global China" New Left Review no. 89, Sept-Oct 2014, pp.29-65.

"State and Social Protest in China" Daedalus 143(2), Spring 2014, pp. 124-134.

"The Power of Instability: Unraveling the Microfoundations of Bargained Authoritarianism in China" American Journal of Sociology 118(6): 1476-1508, 2013.

"The Politics of Precarity: Views Beyond the United States" Work and Occupations 39(4): 388-408, 2012 (co-authored with Yelizavetta Kofman)

"Remaking the World of Chinese Labor: A Thirty Year Retrospective" British Journal of Industrial Relations, September. (co-authored with Eli Friedman) vol. 48 (3), September, 2010, pp. 3-17.

"Raw Encounters: Chinese Managers, African Workers and the Politics of Casualization in Africa's Chinese Enclaves" The China Quarterly 199, September 2009, pp. 647-666.

"Engendering the Worlds of Labor: Women Workers, Labor Markets and Production Politics in the South China Economic Miracle," American Sociological Review vol. 60(3): 378-397, 1995