Lecture 11 (spring semester). Human Trafficking: Sex work, gender, migration.


Human Trafficking: Sex Work, Gender, and Migration 



In the last few weeks of this semester focussing on globalization and migration, we have examined the idea that people migrate with different degrees of freedom and agency, and make their decisions to migrate in the context of constraining and enabling factors. We considered the ways in which the ability to migrate (and to choose to stay) can be analyzed in terms of categories of class, caste, nationality, gender, sexuality, and “race”. In week four we looked at investment and professional migration, including the examples of Chinese elite migration to Australia, Canada, and the US, and the circulation of Indian IT professionals between India and the US.

Last week (lectures & seminars 9) we built on our sociological knowledge of globalization and migration by looking at our first categories of forced migration: refugee, asylum seeker migration, and internal displacement.

We introduced the international norms and law that aim to protect and govern the movement of these kinds of forced migration, examined the different kinds of conflict and disaster that cause people to flee, as well as other push and pull factors; we examined the way that states respond to these forms of migration, and the way they are represented in the media and in political discourse. For the seminars, we discussed some ethnographic research on the forced migrants’ experience of precarity; we watched parts of the Italian documentary film Fire at Sea, had group discussions on the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe and what we thought could be done to help solve it, and posted your ideas and peer comments on our online board.

This week’s lecture and some migration concepts/issues  revision

This week we are looking at other forms of forced and coerced migration including human trafficking, precarious migrant labour, and people smuggling.

Let’s just keep in some of the migration questions relevant to trafficking:

Do people migrate because of push or pull Factors? Or sometimes Both? Does the political economy and other factors give some structure their choices/actions? Is migration perceived as a problem and, if so, by whom?

In this lecture, we will consider

  • What is trafficking? How is it similar or different to smuggling?
  • How and why did the problem of human trafficking arise? How does that problematising relate to globalization?
  • Common misconceptions about migration and trafficking: Taking apart the myths
  • Responses to trafficking
  • What does trafficking mean for gender, agency, and globalisation
  • What is the difference between trafficking and migrancy?

In this week’s seminars we will discuss the readings, the two videos played today, and the visual images in the seminar power point to think about competing representations of gender, class, power, agency.

“Human Trafficking and “People Smuggling”

First, let’s look at the similarity and difference between trafficking and smuggling as forms of labour migration (migration for work).

  • Trafficking in persons is legally defined as

the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.

  • Exploitation is legally defined as

at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs

(United Nations, The Palermo Protocol, 2000: Article 3)

So trafficking involves:

  • a kind of forced or coerced migration, or
  • the use of force or coercion after voluntary migration

Let’s have a look at an example

Loveth Nigerian sex trafficking victim

Loveth, 21, in a shelter for victims of sex trafficking in Italy. Loveth states she had been forced into prostitution for four years in Libya after being raped by her traffickers. She told The Guardian she was 17 when she left Nigeria, and that a madam had offered her work as a childminder in Europe. “Before they took me to Libya they used two boys to break my virginity and then in Libya they took me to a house and sent many men to sleep with me.”

In this example, the migrant labourer traveled voluntarily for what she claims she believed to have been legal work, and then found she had been tricked, so that she could be exploited.  So her migration is defined by the UN as a kind of trafficking. This is an example of the second kind of trafficking, exploitation after voluntary migration (not forced migration). But we can also say it was coerced, inasmuch as it is the madam’s (alleged) lie about ‘childminding work’ that encourages “Loveth” to migrate.

Let’s watch the following video from The Guardian Newspaper on trafficking of Nigerian women and girls to Italy:


Quick questions about the video

What kind of “human trafficking” are the women involved in? Can we tell whether the stories are true or not? How might we evaluate the claims?

In the international law, People smuggling is defined differently from human trafficking:

“procurement, in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit, of the illegal  entry of a person into a State Party of which the person is not a national or a permanent resident.” (UN, Article 3, Smuggling of Migrants Protocol).

So, one example of migrant smuggling might include the Libyan boatmen paid to bring migrants from northern Africa to southern Europe:

libyan smuggler migrants Ghat

As we discussed in last week’s lecture, asylum seekers often rely on smugglers to be able to cross borders, and many smuggling networks include friends and family members, as well as individuals and groups undertaking aspects of smuggling for business.

The term “trafficking” − a kind of forced migration− is both similar to and different from the term “people smuggling” (also the subject of its own protocol).

“Trafficking” and people smuggling” are similar in that both terms of international law defining forms of international migration as illegal.

However, they differ inasmuch as “trafficking” involves a kind of forced migration, while “people smuggling” involves consent, as the migrant contracts a party (the “smuggler”) to assist with her (or his) illegal migration.

As we will discuss below, it’s actually more complicated than this forced/free dichotomy suggests, in part because of the emphasis on “prostitution”. To begin to understand that, let’s have a look at how and why anti-trafficking law came into being.

The “war on migration”, the “war on terror” (modern origins of international and national law on human trafficking part 1) 

Professor Julia O’Connell Davidson is a British sociologist specialising in critiques of some of the dominant ideas of “human trafficking”. In her book Modern Slavery — The Margins of Freedom (2015:3) she explains how anti-trafficking and anti-smuggling law and norms arose, in part, through the US and other state’s concerns about the risks that globalization posed for state power in the 1990s.

Tranational organized crime was represented as the expansion of illegal transactions at the expense of the legal economy and its supporting political institutions. Uncontrolled international immigration (including criminal migration and asylum migration) was viewed as threatening national sovereignty and in the guise of the possible migration of terrorists, as threatening national security.

As we saw in last week’s lecture states took a variety of legislative and administrative measures to restrict the flow of asylum seeker migration because of these perceived threats. The concern for sovereignty and security thereby combined ‘the war on terror’  with the ‘war on migration’,  while the latter was fought against migration from “the global south” in particular.

The “war on trafficking” then, emerged in the context of state’s efforts to control international movement and trade and to criminalise those they viewed as undesirable. The idea of “the forced movement of women and girls across borders and into prostitution … was parcelled up with phenomena such as smuggling, money laundering and drug and gun running” as a problem for interstate cooperation (O’Connell-Davidson, 2015:4).

This inter-state cooperation took form in international law including the following convention and its protocols.

The UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime (2000)

The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children 

The Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea, and Air

The Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and the Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition.

These have corresponding national legislation in many states, with the US legislation particularly influential as it seeks to impose its view of trafficking on other states and gain their compliance in “the war on trafficking”.  The US legislation reflects the interest of the religious and feminist groups in preventing sex work and sex work migration:

The Trafficking Victim Protection Act, (2000) (TVPA)

The Trafficking Victim Protection Amendment  Act (2008), also known as the William Wilberforce Act.

The TVPA “created a two-tier definition:

“severe forms of trafficking in persons,” in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion,

and “sex trafficking,” defined simply as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act”. Chin, Ko-lin. 31)

The “war on prostitution” (modern origins of international and national law on human trafficking part 2)

Ronald Weitzer is an American sociologist and criminologist with expertise in the politics of sex work and “human trafficking” in America. He takes a social constructionist approach to explaining the rise of the idea of human trafficking.  In the social constructionist approach, social conditions become problems as a result by interested parties making claims that may (and may not)  be based on existing social situations. The claims are more important than the conditions themselves.

One way of transforming claims into problems is via what Robin Cohen described as “moral panics” and the “moral crusades” designed to address them. A moral panic defines a particular condition as purely evil.

In his article”The social construction of sex trafficking” Weitzer explains how anti-trafficking developed in the form of a moral crusade against sex work (termed “prostitution”) and sex work in the US. As he recounts, the trafficking debates in the 1990s followed debates over sex work in the US, with an odd coalition of radical feminists and the religious right campaigning for the prohibition of pornography (beginning in the late 1980s), and federal and some state government actors cooperating via a national commission and crackdown on pornography. A similar coalition coalesced to advocate that trafficking should be defined in a way that recognized their belief that all prostitution is ultimately forced or coerced and abusive.

On the religious right stood the organizations Focus on the Family, National Association of Evangelicals, Catholic Bishops Conference, Traditional Values Coalition, Concerned Women for America, Salvation Army, International Justice Mission, Shared Hope International, and Religious Freedom Coalition among others. These faith groups regard all forms of sex work as immoral and unnatural, as threatening God-given family values, the institution of marriage and the proper relationship between genders, love, sex, and social reproduction.

With them were the neo-abolitionist feminist groups, including the Coalition Against Trafficking Women (CATW), Equality Now, the Protection Project, and Standing Against Global Exploitation (SAGE) (Weitzer, 2007). Rather than espouse the “family values” that their core beliefs denigrated, the radical feminist discourse worked in terms of prostitution as exploitative and objectifying, as a kind of (sexual) slavery, as a form of violence against women (Weitzer, 2007) that is “paradigmatic of a system of male power” (O’Neill & Scoular 2008). The right wing faith groups adopted much of this language in their efforts to gain greater legitimacy for the war on prostitution and trafficking.

Weitzer notes that these faith and feminist groups cooperated on their opposition to prostitution and pornography despite their strong differences on core issues (for each side) such as abortion and same-sex marriage.

The success of this faith-feminist coalition in the US was based, in part, on political opportunity, as they made their case during the George W. Bush presidency (2001-9). Bush, a Republican, drew on conservative Christian support, as well as on supporters of certain kinds of women’s right, sometimes combining protection of women’s right with “war-on-terror discourse, as was the case in the argument that the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan was fought to protect Afghan women and girls (Berry 2003).

On the other side, pro-sex work advocates included the Network of Sex Work Projects, the Sex Workers Outreach Project, the Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women, and the Sex Workers Project in New York. These groups argued that most sex work is consensual and that abuse has more to do with the conditions of work than with the actual work itself. These groups focussing on research about and support for women involved in sex work have been represented as “pro-prostitution” advocates by their opponents (Weitzer, 2007).

So, the international and US law on “trafficking” reflects the interests of those groups who seek to prohibit or abolish “prostitution”.

Strategies, measures, and monitoring to support the anti-trafficking norms and law

US anti-trafficking strategy

TVPA 2000 was aimed at accomplishing

“Three Ps” “Three Rs” (victim-centered)
prosecuting traffickers (a criminal justice approach) rescue
protecting victims (the humanitarian approach) rehabilitation
preventing human trafficking (strategic approach) reintegration

In accordance with TVPA, the Department of State is required to submit to the U.S. Congress an annual  Trafficking in Persons Report) on foreign governments’ efforts to eliminate severe forms of trafficking in persons (Chin and Finckenauer, 2012; 201)

The U.S. Department of State also established the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (GTIP Office).

UN anti-trafficking strategy

The UN followed its protocol with:

efforts to encourage states to ratify (117 had ratified by 2014)

collaboration with local governments, as well as coordination of regional and
global anti-trafficking forums.

the UN Global Initiative to Fight Trafficking (UN.GIFT) (2007) that aims at expanding anti-trafficking efforts to include members of the business community, civil society, and celebrities.

Global Plan of Action (GPA) (2008) against trafficking, intended to align and further integrate all states’ efforts to end trafficking.

Neo-Abolitionist sex trafficking: issues of force, consent, and constraint

Criminal Justice Professors Chin and Finckenauer, (2012:30) observe that “trafficking victims” are represented as being

forced to work with little or no pay; they are beaten or raped; they and their families are threatened; they are deceived by being promised one job and then forced to work at another; they are controlled in their movements; their documents are held.

However, for the US State Department and others involved in anti-trafficking, women and girls must be considered victims of trafficking even if they had consented to prostitution.

Thus the US William Wilberforce Act (2008) further differentiates between “aggravated sex trafficking” and “sex trafficking”.

“Aggravated sex trafficking” is defined as involving the use of force, fraud, or coercion to cause a person to engage in prostitution.

“Sex trafficking”, is a lesser offense defined as persuading, inducing, or enticing an individual into prostitution (without the need for force, fraud, or coercion).

This latter provision makes all prostitution, including prostitution, entered into voluntarily, a form of criminal sex trafficking (see Chin and Finckenauer, 2012:269).

The idea that women should be considered as trafficked victims even if they “chose” prostitution has been subject to intense ongoing debate. On the side of the moral crusaders are aligned the Christian Right, determined to protect traditional family values against the sin of prostitution, some feminists determined to protect women from sexual objectification, and political actors seeking to define American liberalism against the perceived illiberalism of non-Western states.

In the view of this anti-prostitution coalition, women and girls who voluntarily engage in prostitution cannot be regarded as having consented for two main reasons.

Firstly, their livelihood choices may have been so overly constrained as to have negated the possibility of free choice:  typically, extreme poverty is regarded as constraining women’s choices to such an extent that prostitution seems an (or the only) viable option.

Other constraining factors may include shame and control common to patriarchal societies that limit women and girl’s opportunities to such an extent that sex work may seem to be a viable option.

In such cases, the decision is not regarded as consent for want of a viable option.

Secondly, if all prostitution is regarded as exploitation, then one cannot be considered to have consented to exploitation. On this basis, women and girls who agree to sex work have been duped (tricked) into consent, therefore their agreement is not informed consent. This means that the sex workers’ attitude (her/his idea that s/he is working voluntarily) is regarded as wrong: the “prostitute” is regarded as a victim whose ignorance or naivety has been exploited.

Examples; chickenheads; child prostitution …

Effectively, the legal (and abolitionist) definition of trafficking works to equate migrants’ sex work with exploitation (Doezema 2010).

This view of sex work (and migration for sex work) makes it impossible to distinguish between smuggling and trafficking (Skilbrei & Tveit 2008): a smuggled sex worker becomes a trafficking victim (regardless of her/his perspective or consent).

“Human Trafficking” = “Modern Slavery”?

American anti-trafficking policy is a reinvention of early 20th century campaigns against and myths of so-called ‘white slavery” and prostitution. In her book  Sex Slaves and Discourse Masters (2000) Dr. Jo Doezema explains that turn-of-the-century policy makers, advocates, and the media used the term “white slavery” to describe how male immigrants and men of colour forced white women into prostitution. The “white slavery” discourse fed off and encouraged anxieties about female sexuality and autonomy, race and immigration.

The US Congress White Slave Traffic Act, 1910, (also known as the Mann Act), prohibited the interstate transportation of women for “immoral purposes” and criminalized interracial sex (Langum 1994). Thus once enforced with legislation, the “white slavery” discourse enabled laws restricting women’s mobility, while representing these restrictions as having been enacted in the interest of protecting the supposed “trafficking victims” (Doezema, 2000).

The current “war against trafficking” also reinvents the 19th-century abolitionist (anti-slavery) campaigns, with the conflict between ‘slavery’ and freedom’ this time imagined on the site of the female migrant victim, who needs to be rescued from her often-Oriental and definitively UnAmerican enslavement.


Myths of Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery

This week’s seminar

Next Week’s Lecture (8)

Globalization: Precarious labour and migration

Please Note: This blog is educational. Any images or works represented or discussed are used for teaching purposes only.

Draft: Lecture 1 (autumn semester) Political, media and academic representations of im/mobilities


Anderson, B. (2006) Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, chapter three, Verso

Cohen, S. (2011) Folk Devils and Moral Panics, Routledge, chapter 3.

Downing, J and Husband, C., (2005) Representing Race: Racisms, Ethnicity and the Media, Sage, chapter one

Hall, S. et al, (2013) Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices, Chapter four

Edward Said, (2008) Covering Islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World, chapter one.


Lecture (autumn semester). British and European responses to Islamic migration

Welcome, this week’s lecture will look at:

  • Islamic immigration & settlement in Europe & England & Wales
  • Numbers, Geography, Origins
  • Perceptions of host communities
  • Discrimination, Disadvantage & rights
  • Conflicts over Islam in England & France
  • Conceptualising discrimination

Demographics: England and Wales

  • 56 million residents in England and Wales
  • 86% were White; 8% were Asian/Asian British; 3% Black/African/Caribbean/Black British;T0.1% Arab
  • Top 10 countries of birth in Asia ranged from India (694,000 people) to Malaysia (65,000).
  • Of the residents of England and Wales in 2011, 59% were Christian; 25% had No religion; 5% were Muslim
  • Foreign-born population England & Wales; Christian (48%); Muslims (19%).
  • Muslim population growing faster than the overall population, with a higher proportion of children and a lower ratio of elderly people
  • In 2011, 2.71 million Muslims lived in England and Wales, compared with 1.55 million in 2001


People in the US similarly overestimate the proportion of Muslims in the population, thinking it is 15% when it is actually 1%. They believe 56% are Christian when the true figure identifying themselves as such is 78%.Britons also underestimate the proportion of Christians, believing it is 39% when the correct figure is 59%.

IPSO MORI cited in The Guardian, Today’s Key Fact: you are probably wrong about almost everything, 29 October, 2014


Origins of Muslim people in Europe

  • Seven out of ten British Muslims are South Asian with the others being mostly of African or Arab descent.
  • Most Muslims in France have roots in North Africa,
  • Approx. two thirds of German Muslims are of Turkish descent,
  • Dutch Muslim population is mostly those of Moroccan and Turkish origin as well as refugees from the Middle East and Africa,
  • Muslims in Scandinavia from displaced people from war zones such as Palestine, Somalia and Iraq.

Geographic distribution

English cities/towns

London 1,012,823 (12.4%); Birmingham 234,411 (21.8%);Bradford 129,041 (24.7%)

Leicester (19%); Manchester 79,496 (15.8%) ONS (2011)

European cities

Amsterdam (14%); Antwerp (17%); Brussels (15+%); Cologne (12%); Copenhagen (10%); Malmo (20%); Marseille (20%); Moscow (12%); Paris (10+%)


Discrimination, disadvantage and rights

Britain 1997

  • Exclusion (from government, employment, management and responsibility);
  • Violence (physical assaults, vandalism of property, verbal abuse);
  • Prejudice (in the media, in everyday conversation),
  • Discrimination (in employment practices, and in provision of services, notably health and education) (Runneymede Trust, 1997)

Britain 2016

  • Higher poverty rates, including child poverty + persistently low wages
  • Nearly half of the Muslim population live in the ten most deprived districts in England. (2016)
  • British Muslim women have the highest rates of unemployment, despite higher rates of university participation and qualifications
  • Hate crimes against Muslims have risen since 1997
  • Muslims are over 13 percent of the prison population but only 5% of population.(Runneymede Trust, 2016)

France 2016

  • Hate crime up

e.g. after the January 2015 Paris attack 26 mosques attacked (firebombs, gunfire, pig heads, and grenades) (Stone, 2016).

Muslims tend to be ghettoized, living in often run-down Muslim banlieues, isolated from mainstream society

  • Muslims suffer discrimination, unemployment + poverty.
  • Muslims = 7% of the population; 70 percent of prison population is Muslim,(Alexander, 2016).

French policy: racism, ethno-religious discrimination

Article 1. France shall be an indivisible, secular, democratic and social Republic. It shall ensure the equality of all citizens before the law, without distinction of origin, race or religion. It shall respect all beliefs. Constitution of France (1958)

EU regulations

  • EU Employment Directive (2003) outlaws religious discrimination at work
  • European Convention on Human Rights (2010), Article 9, Freedom of thought, conscience and religion
  • Article 10, Freedom of Expression
  • Article 14, Prohibition of Discrimination


  • under French law it is illegal to distinguish individuals on the grounds of their religion.
  • laïcité actively blocks religious interference in affairs of state. This dates back to the Revolution of 1789 ….
  • laïcité, it is argued, guarantees the moral unity of the French nation – the ‘République indivisible’.

… the proclaimed universalism of republican values, and in particular laïcité, can very quickly resemble the ‘civilizing mission’ of colonialism. … if Muslims want to be ‘French’, they must learn to be citizens of the Republic first and Muslims second; for many this is an impossible task. Hussey, 2014, 9.

Muslims viewed as Non-assimilating

Our former immigrants were Europeans; these are not.  Arab girls who insist on wearing chuddars (chador, veil or covering) in our schools are not French and don’t want to be…Europe’s past was white and Judaeo Christian.  The future is not.  I doubt that our very old institutions and structures will be able to stand the pressure (Dominique Moisi, in Judith Miller, 1991, p.86)

Banning Islamic Female Dress

  • French Foulard ‘headscarf’ affair’ (1989)
  • 1994 student demonstrations
  • France became the first country in Europe to ban the wearing of the headscarf in state schools (2004) .

‘Conspicuous’  religious items may not be worn in schools.  Forbidden items include: the Muslim headscarf, Sikh turbans, Jewish  skullcaps and large Christian crucifixes.

Burqa and Niqab banned in public 2011

April, France bans public wearing of the burqa, a full body covering that covers the lower face and has a meshed cloth over the eyes, and the niqab, which is identical except that a veil covers the lower face and the eyes are uncovered  (fines of 150 euros).

Burkini Bans 2016

30 French mayors ban the use of Burkini; municipal police can stop and fine any women in full-body swimsuits at the beach

More than 20 mayors have defied the state council ruling that the burkini bans are a “serious and manifestly illegal violation of fundamental freedoms”.

Laïcité and the bans; “protecting” the secular nature of the state.

  • ‘we must defend secularism – the next step may be separate train compartments for men and women, beaches reserved for one sex’ (Alain Juppe, former PM 2003)
  • the burkini is “the affirmation of political Islam in the public space”. (Prime minister, Manuel Valls, 2016)

French colonialism & the Hijab

  • Colonial “mission civilisatrice” saw a moral duty in colonisation: a self-elevating sense of responsibility to educate and liberate populations across North Africa.
  • The hijab represented as a symbol of Islamic oppression and a part of what made North African countries so inferior (in the French colonial discourse).
  • In Algeria the unveiling of women was a way of showing how France was liberating its female subjects from the “repressive tyrannies” of Islam, keeping the veil on, in some cases became a symbol of resisting colonial rule.
  • Some modern French politicians and feminists, see veiled Muslim women as, by definition, oppressed and in need of “saving”.

English policy: racism, ethno-religious discrimination

Race Relations Paradigm

  • Race Relations Act 1965,68,76 (protects against discrimination based on ‘race’ = biological race, nationality, ethnicity)
  • 1980s ‘race’ definition expanded to include mono-ethnic religious groups like Jews and Sikhs
  • Public Order Act (1986) incitement to racial hatred = criminal offence
  • Crime and Disorder Act (1998) and Race Relations (Amendment) Act (2000) both maintain the existing definition of ‘racial group’.
  • Anti-Terrorism, Crime & Security Bill (2001) did not make incitement to religious hatred an offence, identifies Muslim communities as the seat of internal threat (Husband & Alam, 2012, 100)

Recognising religious discrimination

  • EU Employment Directive (2003) outlaws religious discrimination at work
  • 1998 Human Rights Act makes religious freedom a right in the UK
  • Equality Act 2010: protects against discrimination on the basis of religious belief, belonging, connection, perception of membership
  • law prohibits “incitement to religious hatred” and defines “religious hatred” as hatred of a group that may be determined by reference to religious belief or lack of religious belief.

The Rushdie Affair

  • Salman Rushdie: The Satanic Verses (1989) regarded by many Muslims as blasphemous
  • Ayatollah Khomeini  issues fatwa

‘from the point of view of community relations, the fatwa was a disaster for the Muslims in Britain’ (Ruthven, 1991)

  • Book-burning in Bradford on 14th January 1989; perceived as echoing Nazi book-burnings in the 1930s

No one paused to inquire if book burning had the same meaning and significance in Islamic traditions, or whether the Bradford incident was largely symbolic, an expression of impatience rather than intolerance, and the result of misguided advice rather than hatred…all Muslims were implicated in the book burning (Parekh, 1990: 122).

  • many used the affair to highlight the incompatibility between Islam and the West: ‘The Western belief in human rights, which seems to lack limits, is alien to Islamic traditions’ (Taheri, 1990: 89)

‘The nature of the media coverage surrounding the ‘Rushdie Affair’ transformed the dominant view towards Muslims in Britain from Asians to Muslims.’ (Vertovec, 2002: 23)

Assimilationist and liberal British views

  • Assimilationist view of supporters of the fatwa

Disloyalty: greater respect for Khomeini than British law

Lack of patriotism; neglecting British reputation & feelings of fellow citizens

Fatwa support shows multiculturalism has failed

  • Liberal views:

Violation of liberal values; free speech, respect for law, tolerance, democracy, secularism (Parekh, 1999, 18)


Conceptualising discrimination against Islamic people in Europe

From Racism to Islamophobia

  • The “New Racism” (Barker, 1981) Cultural racism relating more to culture, ethnicity than biology
  • “Islamophobia” has: A religious and cultural dimension, but equally clearly, bares a phenotypical component. For while it is true that “Muslim” is not a (putative) biological category…neither was “Jew”. It took a long, non-linear history of racialisation to turn an ethno-religious group into a race. Naser Meer and Tariq Modood, 2012

Islamophobic views of Islam


Islam seen as a single monolithic bloc, static and unresponsive to new realities.

  1. Separate

seen as separate and other – (a) not having any aims or values in common with other cultures (b) not affected by them (c) not influencing them.


Islam seen as inferior to the West – barbaric, irrational, primitive, sexist.

  1. Enemy

Islam seen as violent, aggressive, threatening, supportive of terrorism, engaged in ‘a clash of civilisations’.

5. Manipulative

Islam seen as a political ideology, used for political or military advantage.

  1. Criticism of West rejected

Criticisms made by Islam of ‘the West’ rejected out of hand

Discrimination defended   Hostility towards Islam used to justify discriminatory practices towards Muslims and exclusion of Muslims from mainstream society.

  1. Islamophobia seen as natural

Anti-Muslim hostility accepted as natural and ‘normal’.

“Anti-Muslimism” (Fred Halliday, 2006)

  • Strategic anti-Muslimism

Relating to: terrorism, nuclear weapons, Oil; Arising from Western views of foreign Muslim societies

  • Populist anti-Muslimism

Relating to: Immigration, Assimilation, Cultural practices (veiling); Arising from the presence of Muslims within Western society

Anti-Muslimist Imagined Communities (Benedict Anderson)

  • National communities imagined in relation to Islamic “others”:
  • Negative othering:

Europe/West defined as “civilised”, “modern”, “tolerant”, “equitable” (feminist), lawful & peaceful

 in relation to

Islam/East defined as “barbaric”, “backwards”, “intolerant”, “inequitable” (“sexist”), illegal & violent

Orientalism (Edward Said)

Colonial period: the dominant “orientalist discourse”

  • Homo Islamicus: unreason, fanaticism, despotism, unreason, belief, stagnation, medievalism
  • Western civilisation: reason, freedom and progress towards perfectibility,

Al-Azmeh, Aziz, (1996)


Leiken, R S (2005) ‘Europe’s Angry Muslims’ in Foreign Affairs 84 (4) 120-135


Husband, C. and Alam, Y. (2011) Social Cohesion and Counter Terrorism: A Policy Contradiction? Bristol, Policy Press, (Ch. 4)

Al-Azmeh, Aziz, (1996), Islams and Modernities (Verso)

Barker, M (1981) The New Racism, London, Junction Books

Cherribi, Sam (2010). In the House of War: Dutch Islam observed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Fekete, Liz, 2009, A Suitable Enemy, Racism, Migration and Islamophobia in Europe (Pluto).

Field, D. (2007) ‘Islamophobia in contemporary Britain: the evidence of the pinion polls, 1988-2006’, Islam and Christian Relations, Vol. 18, No. 4, 447-77.

Halliday, F (1996) Islam and the Myth of Confrontation, London, I.B. Taurus.

Holloway, Lester, Islamophobia – 20 years on, still a challenge for us all, Runnymede Trust, online, 13 April, 2016

Huntingdon, S (1996) The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Hussey, Andrew (2014). The French Intifada. London, Granta Publications

Meer, Nasar, and Tariq Modood, 2012, “For ‘Jewish’ read ‘Muslim’? Islamophobia as a Form of Racialisation of Ethno-Religious Groups in Britain Today”, Islamophobia Studies, volume 1, issue 1 (spring).

Miller, Judith, (1991) “Strangers at the Gate: Europe’s Immigration Crisis,” New York Times Magazine, September 15

Tariq Modood, (ed.,) (2005), Muslim Britain: Communities under Pressure, London, Zed Books

Modood T, and Salt, J. (2011) (eds.), Global Migration, Ethnicity and Britishness, London & New York, Palgrave MacMillan

Nachmani, Amikam (2010). Europe and its Muslim minorities: aspects of conflict, attempts at accord. Brighton: Sussex Academic.

Kastoryano, Riva. “Religion and Incorporation: Islam in France and Germany”, International Migration Review, Vol. 38, No. 3, Conceptual and Methodological Developments in the Study of International Migration (2004), pp 1234-1255.

Kastoryano, R (2006) ‘French secularism and Islam: France’s headscarf affair’ in Modood, T. Trianafyllidou, A., and Zapata-Barrero, R. Multiculturalism, Muslims and Citizenship, London, Routledge, 57-69.

Kundnani, Arun, 2014, The Muslims Are Coming! Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror, Verso.

Plenel, E (2016) For the Muslims: Islamophobia in France, Brooklyn NY. Verso.

Runnymede Trust, Islamophobia, A Challenge for Us All, 1997

Said, E, (2003) Orientalism, Penguin, London

Soysal, Y. N. (1997), ‘Changing Parameters of Citizenship and Claims-making: Organized Islam in European public spheres’, Theory and Society, 26, 509-527.

Draft. Lecture (autumn semester) Postcolonial immigration (English case study)


In this lecture we are going to discuss post-war immigration and settlement to England (a narrower focus than the UK, and introduce some of the key postcolonial perspectives that help illuminate the im/mobilities, political and media discourse and im/mobility policies that developed in this post 1945 period.

Immigration prior to WWII

Prior to the second world war, England was already a country of immigration. This was mainly due to its status as one of the nations of the United Kingdom (England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales) and its marginalisation of the Irish through a form of quasi-colonisation.


The prevailing racism of English attitudes to immigrants became evident in its response to Jewish immigration during the second world war, and afterwards.

By the 1940s, there were approx. 400,000 refugees from Nazi germany. They came despite the Aliens Act (1905) which was designed to restrict Jewish immigration (particularly the immigration of poor Eastern European Jews).The British government  limit the offer of protection to the amount of refugees that Jewish organisations were prepared to fund. It refused to extend this policy to the general population (as members of the public had offered to support Jewish refugees) as the effect would have been an extension rather than limitation of support.

Between 1933 and 1948 Britain limited Jewish immigration

  • The Anschluss (annexation of Austria, 1938) produced a vast increase in the need for refuge,
  • By 1939, 60,000  refugees, including 10,000 Kindertransport children from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia

In 1939 only ten per cent of refugee applicants were successful. Eastern European political refugees preferred over Jewish persons

  • restrictive visa requirements from Austria and Germany, and pre-selection from abroad.
  • Refugees only had temporary residence
  • Had to have own business, work as domestic servants; the Anglo-Jewish orgs had to support those in need
  • Many members of the public offered their own homes and resources,  the government declined
  • All visas cancelled during the war
  • the EVWS rejected Jewish immigrants.

Post-war immigration (1945 +)

  • Labour migration
  • Temporary workers
  • Colonial tie migration
  • Chain migration

Pull factors

Need to build post-war economy after loss of world power status to US

Labour shortages:

  • Loss of working age males in the Second World War; female workers return to households
  • large-scale emigration of British persons to the white dominions in the post-war period (1.5 million had emigrated by 1960)
  • 1948/49, government states a need for a guest-worker scheme of up-to 1 million workers.


European ‘push’ factors for post war migration

  • 1.8 million refugees living in 262 Displace Persons camps run by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) (1945)
  • By 1947 these numbers had been swelled by large flows of Eastern European Jews (UNRRA had become responsible for an additional 500 camps).
  • Anti-Semitic conflict, homelessness and poverty were the major ‘push’ factors for many of the millions of post-war Europeans caught in refugee camps or  homeless
  • Many would have accepted the chance to re-settle and work in Britain

War time migration & settlement
 in Britain(1938-45)


  • 60,000 refugees & Kindertransport
  • 300,000 Dutch and Belgian citizens after the invasion of Netherlands, Belgium
  • 115,000 Polish allied fighters

Colonial workers

  • 1,200 British Hondurans in the Scottish highlands felling timber
  • 1,000 West Indians in the Merseyside and Lancashire war factories;
  • 10,000 West Indians as ground crews for the Air Force
  • 1,000s of colonial seamen were recruited or enlisted to work in the merchant navy.


1938-45: 70,000 into England & Wales.

Post-war immigration

1946-59: 350,000 Irish workers (net inflow)

  • Many more in circular migration (moving back and forth for work, family)
  • their entry was unrestricted
  • Status as Irish citizens granted British subjecthood.

European labour migration between 1946 -51 brought in 460,000 European migrants.

  • 90,000 migrants (Poles, Italians, and others from displaced persons camps in Germany and Italy) under the European Voluntary Workers Scheme (EVWS)
  • British state undertook ‘to meet all the costs of recruitment, transport and repatriation on behalf of British business.
  • European migrants were recruited to fill gaps in the labour market in agriculture, brick-making, coal-mining, engineering, hospitality, metal production, textiles, and hospitals.

New Commonwealth migration Push & Pull factors

Push factors:

West Indies. Unemployment, population growth, and the cutting of alternative outlets for migration;Late 1940s + West Indians began to emigrate to escape chronic unemployment, poverty, and violent levels of socio-political unrest. West Indians migrated to the US, within the Caribbean itself, and to Canada and Britain.

Indian and ‘Pakistani’ people migrated after the partition of 1947 which caused the displacement of I5 million people; many from  Sikh communities from the Punjab where they had been driven by the annexation of ‘West Pakistan’.

Pull factors:

Job opportunities and better opportunities and prospects in Britain, opportunity to support family via remittances. Zig Layton-Henry

remittances that migrants sent home during this period rapidly became a dominant form of GNP in the Caribbean nations; i.e., second highest component for Jamaica 1948-1951.

New Commonwealth & varied immigration

1953-1961 (net)





Net migration

  • 1951-61 + 12,000;
  • 1961-71, – 320,000
  • 1971-1981, – 306,000
  • 1981-91, +75,000 est.
  • 1991-2001, +737,000 est.
  • 2001-2011, +2,184,000 est

Today approx. 5.5. million UK citizens live abroad

Four phases of immigration policy in the UK


Four phases of immigration policy

  • Controls on Jews and other ‘aliens’ arriving from Europe, 1905 onwards (1905 Aliens Act)
  • Controls on New (black and Asian) Commonwealth migrants, as opposed to Old (white) Commonwealth immigrants, 1962 onwards explicit distinctions being made
  • Controls on the entry and rights of asylum seekers, 1980s onwards
  • 1990s+ ‘Managed migration’ and tighter more selective controls on labour migration, including some Eastern European migrants such as Bulgarians and Romanians 
  • Managed migration’
    • Immigration policy has become a key area of policy development for UK and European governments:
    • introducing increasingly restrictive immigration controls
    • reviewing and revising their models for integrating migrants into UK society.

Restricting irregular immigration & settlement

  • Policy focus on deportations (see UK Border Agency for press releases)
  • Policy focus on language schools, further ed. colleges
  • Workplace raids
  • Some countries have used regularisation programmes to overcome the problems of undocumented migrants, the UK has limited experience of this

Explanations for restrictions:

  • 1) ‘Securitization’ – (terrorism, crime, social relations)
  • certain policy issues (like migration) become constructed into issues of security
  • Governments try to maintain authority by promising to protect their citizens from insecurities associated with immigration. These promises serve as a diversion or explanation for economically generated fear that the state has little control over.
  • Social relations (see Enoch Powell and Rivers of Blood speech) – Societal security refers to the way in which social relations are managed and how threats to them can be prevented (Walters 2004).
  • Economic  concerns, welfare state and citizenship
  • Citizenship (T. H. Marshall, 1964: 71-72)
    • Civil: the “the rights necessary for individual freedom”.
    • Political: “the right to participate in the exercise of political power”.
    • Social: “economic welfare and security to the right to share to the full in the social heritage and to live the life of a civilised being according to standards prevailing in the society”
  • Welfare, economy, jobs
    • The welfare state has played a significant role in understandings of citizenship since its emergence during the twentieth century (Schierup et al. 2006).
    • Concerns over the allocation of public resources and economic concerns (Bloch & Schuster 2002)
    • Lucassen (2005: 15) refers to the creation of the welfare state and the concern that developed over ‘free riders’. (i.e. ‘scroungers’)
Battle for Cable Street 196

“East End Jews were under siege from Oswald Mosley’s fascists. Blackshirted street corner speakers railed against the Jews, “rats and vermin from the gutters of Whitechapel”, blaming them for every social ill”.

Unintended consequences: changing demography & identities

Multi-ethnic UK and Europe

  • British Nationality Act 1948 granted the subjects of the British Empire the right to live and work in the UK. Commonwealth citizens were not, therefore, subject to immigration control
  • Questioning/conflicts over British/European National identity
  • Imagined Communities (Benedict Anderson, 2016)

Contested racialisation of immigration

  • Early to mid 20th C time of xenophobia, racial and ethno-nationalism (settler colonies took liberal Britain as their icon of homogenous community, ie.e White Australia Policy; First Aliens Act 1905 designed to prevent Jewish immigration
  • As well as xenophobic violence during the war, there were racist riots and then government deportation programs directed at black and Brown maritime workers after the war, including Liverpool, Glasgow, Manchester, London, Cardiff, Hull. Only some socialist and minority left wing supported internationalism

    (Virdee, 99).

  • Post-war: Contests between anti racism and ongoing xenophobia, racial and ethno-nationalism

“the state, employer and worker came to adhere to a common belief in British nationalism underpinned by a shared allegiance to whiteness”. Virdee, Satnam.(2016. 99).

  • Such ethno-nationalism was contested. For example, Jewish, Labour, socialist and local residents combine to riot against a British Union of Facists march in the East End 1938; Mosley’s facism was anti-semetic.Public anti-racism, empathy for Jews in England, and Europe


Jewish children arriving at London under the Kindertransport program in 1939. The program had widespread public support (with more offers to take children than the government was prepared to rescue)

Post-war Political discourse

  • Immigration linked to social problems in terms ethnicity, ‘race’, size of immigrant population (Solomos, 1993)
  • Enoch Powell, Rivers of Blood Speech, 1968

    Powell chose to make this speech just 16 days after the assassination of the US civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, and amidst the urban unrest that followed throughout most American cities. Contained within the speech is a warning to the British political class; that if they didn’t take action and repatriate non-whites then they too would face the longer-term danger of American-style urban unrest, especially from those defined as the black and the brown English (Solomos 2003: 61). Quoting the Roman poet Virgil, he warned ‘As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding. Like the Roman, I seem to see “the River Tiber foaming with much blood” ’ (cited in Heffer 1998: 454).


Public and institutional racism

  • Popular racism + xenophobia; riots, housing & employment, policing, justice system discrimination
  • New Commonwealth immigrants experienced racist discrimination from public, and institutional racism from government bodies. Peter Fryer, 374. Fryer states, for example, that ‘in the late 1950s, more than half the male West Indians in London had lower status jobs than their skill and experience fitted them for’.
  • late 1950s and 1960s

an exponential growth in street-level racism and violence directed against blacks and Asians accompanied by the introduction of racist immigration controls by the state. Virdee, 2016. 99-100.

Anti-immigrant racism at work and in public

  • Major workplaces operated a ‘colour-bar’ jointly enforced by trade unions and employers (Watson 1996: 154).
  • white trade unionists took industrial action to defend the ‘colour bar’. Virdee, Satnam (2016. 102).
  • 1958, anti-immigrant racist riots erupted in Nottingham in the East Midlands and Notting Hill, west London.
  • “We will kill all black bastards. Why don’t you send them home?” (Travis, A. 2002)

    11se Asqith Xavier has been described as a British Rosa Parks. He fought against racistemployment discrimination and won the right to work as a national rail guard in Euston, London, thus defeating the colour bar (in 1966)



Consequences of discrimination Late 1940s-1960s

  • Black and Asian migrant labour and their British-born children suffered sustained discrimination including informal colour bar (Daniel, 1968)
  • relegated to being a racialized fraction of the working class (Phizacklea and Miles 1980; Miles 1982).
  • Development of “race relations paradigm“: excluding coloured immigrants and providing anti-discrimination protection = 1962 Commonwealth Immigration Act, 1965/68 Race Relations Acts.
  • ‘integration without control is impossible, but control without integration is impossible’. Roy Hattersley, 1965
  • none of the post-1945 British Immigration Acts employs an explicitly racist discourse; they do not make explicit reference to ‘black’ people and they contain no statement of intent to exclude people defined as a distinct ‘race’ (unlike, for example, the Special Restriction (Coloured Alien Seamen) order of 1925) . Nevertheless, when the political context in which the legislation was passed is examined, we find that a racist ideology was present and that the legislation was introduced in order to realise racist objectives. Robert Miles, 1993, 85

Race Relations Paradigm in sociology

    • Division between theorists who
    • A) see the actions of politicians and bureaucrats as part of a racialising strategy which seeks political legitimation by problematising post-war immigration as a ‘racial’ issue
    • B) those who view the elite liberal politicians of this period as having resisted the popular xenophobia or racism that resulted from ‘inassimilable’ immigration.
    • A) see, for example, Ann Dummett and Michael Dummett, ‘The role of government in Britain’s racial crisis’, in C. Husband, (ed.), ‘Race’ in Britain: Continuity and Change, London, Hutchinson, 1982; Kathleen Paul, (1997) Whitewashing Britain: Race and Citizenship in the Postwar Era, Ithica and London, Cornell University Press
    • B) for example, Randall Hansen (2000), Citizenship and Immigration in Post-war Britain, Oxford, Oxford University Press

Legacies of post war racialisation of immigration

  • Race relations paradigm balancing of exclusion against integration relevant to ‘managed migration’ and multicultralism 1990s+
  • Xenophobic racism not limited to skin colour, (originally directed at Jewish immigrants), so cultural
  • Anti-immigration historically linked culture to class (against the poverty of immigrants)
  • Xeno-racism (Sivanandan, 2000) directed against asylum seekers, Islamophobia directed against Islamic immigration
  • immigrationpoliticised : Immigrants stand in for social problems (welfare, housing, jobs)

Postcolonial perspectives on post war immigration racialisation

  • Paul Gilroy observes that post-war British society has demonstrated a post-colonial melancholia, a longing for an imagined pst in which white British subjects were dominant actors ruling over the coloured British Empire. This melancholia fuels xenophobia and racism underlying much of the british discourse and policy towards New Commonwealth immigration. This continues into the present, as the Empire Windrush controversies (aggressive and unacknowledged policy of deporting West Indian immigrants using adminstrative techniques of justification) illustrate.
  • Stuart Hall described New Commonwealth immigration as ‘the return of the repressed’, arguing that it represented a form of resistance to ongoing legacies of colonisation. Hall developed a large body of work within a postcolonial perspective, and did much to propogate key concepts within the literature. Of particular note is the concept of hybridity.
  • More prosaically, migration between and amongst the former metropolis and the colonies is regarded as following postcolonial pathways, a particular form of chain migration, networking and diaspora.
  • Satnam Virdee …
  • Sivanadan pointed to the redeployment of anti-coloured immigration sentiment towards asylum seeker immigrants, coining the term ‘xenoracism’.



Alibah-Brown, Yasmin, Who Do We Think We Are? Imagining the New Britain (London, 2001).

Ê. Balibar and I. Wallerstein (1991), Race, Nation, Class: Ambiguous Identities, London, Verso Books (1991)

Benedict Anderson, (2016), Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, Revised Edition, London, Verso.

Bloch, A. and L. Schuster. 2002. Asylum and Welfare: contemporary debates. Critical Social Policy. 22(3), pp.393-414.

Bleich, Erik, Race Politics in Britain and France (Cambridge, 2003).

Ann Dummett and Michael Dummett, ‘The role of government in Britain’s racial crisis’, in C. Husband, (ed.), ‘Race’ in Britain: Continuity and Change, London, Hutchinson, 1982

Fryer, Peter, Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain (London, 1984).

Geddes, Andrew, The Politics of Immigration and Race (Manchester, 1996).

Gilroy, Paul, There Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack: The Cultural Politics of Race and Nation (London, 1987).

Goulbourne, Harry, Race Relations in Britain since 1945 (Basingstoke, 1998).

Hansen, R. ‘Migration to Europe since 1945: Its History and Its Lessons’, Political Quarterly (2003), 74, 1, pp 25–38.

Heffer, S (1998). Like the Roman: the life of Enoch Powell. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.

Zig Layton-Henry, The Politics of Immigration, ‘Race’ and ‘Race’ Relations in Post-War Britain, Oxford, Blackwells, 1992

Louise London (2001) Whitehall and the Jews, 1933-1948: British Immigration Policy, Jewish Refugees and the Holocaust,Cambridge, Cambridge University Press,

Tony Kushner, Katherine Knox, (1999) Refugees in an Age of Genocide, London: Frank Cass

Tony Kushner, (2009),Anglo-Jewry Since 1066: Place, Locality and Memory, Manchester, Manchester University Press.

Miles, R. 1982. Racism and Migrant Labour. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul

Miles, Robert, Racism after Race Relations, Routledge, London, 1993

Kathleen Paul, (1997) Whitewashing Britain: Race and Citizenship in the Postwar Era, Ithica and London, Cornell University Press

T. H. Marshall (1987), Citizenship and Social Class, London, Pluto Press

Phizacklea, A. and Miles, R. 1980. Labour and Racism. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul

Rosemary Sales (2007) Understanding Immigration and Refugee Policy, Bristol: Policy Press)

Sivanadan, A, Refugees from globalism, CARF 57, August/September, 2000

Solomos, J. 2003. Race and Racism in Contemporary Britain, 3rd ed. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Satnam Virdee (2014) Racism, Class, and the Racialised Outsider, London, Palgrave Macmillan

Non-academic reading

An antidote to the far right’s poison’​ ​– the battle for Cable Street’s mural’, The Guardian, September 21, 2016

Draft. Lecture (autumn semester) Invisibilizing Anglo-liberal violence: Indigenous People and Asylum seekers (Australian case study)

This lecture is about the discourse of settler relations with and recognition of two groups whose differences are incompatible with Anglo-liberalism: Indigenous people and asylum seekers.

Historical legacies: neo-protectionism, ‘recognition’, off-shore solutions.



Unwin. Povinelli, E. (2002) The cunning of recognition: Indigenous alterities and the making of Australian multiculturalism, Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Ray,

Draft. Lecture (autumn semester). The Rise of the Far Right


In today’s lecture we will discuss:

What is the far right? Definitions, examples & Characteristics

How the far right relates to im/mobility. How the far right relates to immigration and settlement, the immobile and mobile precarity of its constituents, the agent mobility of more elite nationals, and the relationships between the three groups and their territorial and social im/mobilities.

Far Right Definitions

Whether due to the complexity of the phenomenon or simply due to its national specificity, the far right has defied a common definition.

Mudde (1996): Twenty six definitions of ‘extreme right’ and 58 different features of ‘extreme right’ ideology’

‘There are as many differences as there are similarities within the extreme right party family’ (Schain et al. 2002).

Far Right in Europe


Socio-economic and democratic crisis in Europe

  • economic grievances – post-2008 financial crash
  • – large scale asylum refugee immigration.
  • Social democrats supported/implemented widespread welfare & investment cuts, supported immigration
  • Political elite perceived as supporting finance/banking
  • Mainstream social democrat parties have lost support from industrial working class and middle-class people
  • The result has been the rise in the popularity of left/green and right wing movements and parties

Left wing:

  • Spain’s Podemos
  • Greece’s Syriza
  • England & Wales Corbyn Labour Momentum
  • Austria, Greens

Extremism in Europe

Normalisation: extremist views becoming mainstream in successful political movements/parties

Parties share two features:

Fierce opposition to immigration and rising ethnic cultural diversity

Their pursuit of a populist ‘anti-establishment’ strategy that attacks mainstream parties and is ambivalent if not hostile to liberal representative democracy(Goodwin, 2011)

The populist right has been emboldened by the vote for Brexit and the success of Donald Trump in the US, while the far-right Freedom party is challenging for the presidency in Austria this weekend and Marine le Pen’s Front National is expecting to do well in French elections next year

Like Marine Le Pen’s Front National, the Freedom party has actively tried to distance itself from its antisemitic past since at least 2010, when it joined a cross-party alliance in the European parliament with Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom and Italy’s Northern League. Contacts with openly antisemitic parties such as Hungary’s Jobbik were broken off, a delegate expelled for antisemitic remarks on her website, and ties built up to Israel’s rightwing Likud party – the Israeli government, however, continues to reject all official contacts with the Freedom party.

Germany’s AfD is not Hungary’s Fidesz. The Finns and the Danish People’s party loathe France’s Front National, and the Netherlands’ PVV is nothing like Poland’s Law and Justice, which bears no resemblance to Austria’s Freedom party. It may be misleading to bracket them all together in the same category.

Anti-Islamism in Netherlands

Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom

Campaigning for de-Islamification” banning all Islamic symbols, mosques and the Koran from the country.

“Europe is exploding. We have terror attacks by jihadists almost every week, almost every day,”

Twice charged with speech incited hatred (against Islam, against the Dutch Morrocan minority) claims he has a right to free speech

Kroet, C. (2016) Geert Wilders tells US he’s set to become next Dutch prime minister

Wilders traveled to the US to show his support for Donald Trump, Politico.eu., 7/20/16

Geert Wilders, the far-right politician who was acquitted five years ago of making anti-Islam remarks, has gone on trial again for allegedly inciting hatred against the Dutch Moroccan minority.

In January, Geert Wilders walked around a fish market in Rotterdam, handing women spray cans that promised to be “Islamic testosterone bombs.” The stunt followed right-wing furor in parts of Europe after migrants and asylum seekers were implicated by media (including social media) in a series of sexual assaults in major cities

Extremism in Greece: Neo-Nazi anti-semitism; anti asylum/refugees

Golden Dawn (7% vote, behind leftwing Syriza, New Democracy (Conservative)

Anti-asylum refugees & anti-austerity

Violent/criminal; accused of murder, armed attacks, money laundering and trafficking

Neo-Nazi & anti-semetic: Leader Nikos Michaloliakos wears swaztika tattoos; praised Hitler

AfG & Pegida in Germany


Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West

Rallies against asylum refugees

Associated with burning of asylum hostels

Pegida leader Bachmann convicted and fined for inciting racial hatred after he called refugees “cattle” and “scum,

1,005 attacks on refugee homes in Germany in 2015 – five times more than in 2014.

Front National in France

  • Nationalist
  • Anti-immigrant
  • Anti-Islam
  • Anti-EU

’Marine le Pen, leader of the Front National, ran as 2017 candidate for Presidency. Party started by Jean Marie le Pen in 1972. Now seeking to overcome history of racism, anti-Semitism and neo-Nazism

In national elections, support for Marine Le Pen’s anti-immigrant, anti-euro Front National swung between 11% in 2002 to 4% in 2007 and nearly 14% in 2012. In recent European (24%) and regional (27%) elections it has done far better, but France’s two-round electoral system means it has yet to make a decisive breakthrough. Le Pen reached the run-off in the presidential elections but, like her father in 2002, was defeated.

Context: more than 230 people have been killed in Islamist terror attacks in France since January 2015; mass unemployment and economic stagnation

Anti-asylum in Italy

Matteo Salvini and the 5 Star Movement took government as a coalition in early 2018. Salvini is a far right figure who campaigned against immigration from Africa and the Middle East, and particularly against asylum immigration. since coming to power he has repeatedly blocked humanitarian immigration and won increasing support in Italy (as well as condemnation) for doing so. Salvini justifies his policies in terms of regional burden sharing (arguing that Italy takes an excessive share of “illegal” migrants) and by denigrating immigrants: he claims, for example, that immigrants are responsible for a third of all crimes in Italy. In the wake of Salvini’s campaing and government there has been a rise in violence against immigrants.

Xenophobia in the UK; from the BNP & EDL to UKIP & Brexit

Political Party

British National Party (former leader Nick Griffin), Britain Democratic Party


English Defense League (leader ‘Tommy Robinson’)

South East Alliance, Combat 18, Britain First, Aryan Revolution UK, British Movement, National Action, National Front, Yorkshire Infidels


  • Nationalist
  • Anti-immigrant, Anti-Islamic, Anti-liberal
  • Anti-Semitism (National Front)

The BNP and EDL – have struggled with internal splits and the rise of UKIP

The BNP, lost most of its  58 councillors and two MEPs, has suffered since leader Nick Griffin was ousted and UKIP has drawn their votes on the basis of its anti-immigration & anti-EU stance

‘While Ukip is not the BNP and Farage is not Griffin, it is clear that most former BNP voters feel quite at home in the Ukip stable.’

English far right anti-Islamism

  • A popular post on EDL London Division’s Facebook

‘We asked 100 people what you associated with Islam. The highest score goes to “terrorism” (28); followed by paedophilia (25), then “hate preaching” (20), “unwelcome invaders” (10), “excessive breeders” (7) and goat/ camel fuckers (5).’ 136 people ticked ‘like’   (Pai, H 2016, 203-4).

Britain is “at war …I don’t think moderate Muslims exist. The jihadis are killing in the name of Islam, … They have no reason to be in this country whatsoever. They are vermin.’ Prodromou, leader, South East Alliance (Channel 4, 2015)

Our country will turn into Englandstan soon and I don’t want that at all.’ EDL member, (Pai, H. 2016, 203)

English Far right hate crimes & terrorism

Anti-Muslim hate monitoring group Tell MAMA reports 326 per cent increase in incidents in 2015, fueled by terrorist incidents; 61 per cent of victims in the cases it recorded involved women and of those, 75 per cent were clearly identifiable as Muslim, for example due to their headscarves or veils.

Recent study by the Royal United Services Institute accused western governments of neglecting the threat of far-right lone actor terrorists, with almost a third in Europe since 2000 having been motivated by extreme-right-wing beliefs, compared with 38% inspired by religion.

MP Jo Cox, advocate of support for immigrants, murdered by lone extremist Thomas Mair (Batley, 2016)

  • Influenced by far right information online, including Nazi texts
  • Acted in climate of heightened Islamophobia, anti-immigration and rising hate crime
  • Claimed to be acting out of patriotism, defending England from pro-immigration politics

English far right online

  • Strong use of social media: Britain First has more than 1.4m Facebook likes, greater than any other UK political party (Townsend, M, 2016)
  • Far-right groups gained a significant number of followers from the murder of Jo Cox MP and the Brexit campaign. Britain First’s Twitter followership increased by over 700 in the 5 days following Jo Cox’s murder.
  • Far right groups were talked about in a more positive way online following both the murder of Jo Cox and the EU referendum result.
  • 50,000 positive social media comments after the murder  of MP Jo Cox (and also widely condemned)

Smith, M, Colliver, C (2016)

Redwatch forum for far-right, targeting left-wing, pro-immigrant support

Rise of the Alt-Right in the U.S.

  • Alt Right is short for “alternative right.”
  • Alt-right encompasses a range of people on the extreme right who reject mainstream conservatism in favor of implicit or explicit racism or white supremacy.
  • Alt Righters reject egalitarianism, democracy, universalism and multiculturalism.
  • anti-Semitism
  • Anti-Islamism
  • Anti-feminist
  • Resonates with Trump’s presidential campaign where he repeatedly insulted Muslims, Jews, immigrants (including Mexians) and women, and his cabinet’s opposition to LGBT rights
  • Steve Bannon, Alt-Right spokesperson, now advisor to president Trump
  • Richard Spencer white supremicist
  • Milo Yiannopoulos (social media celebrity)
  • Gained popularity via social media (incl. Brietbart, Twitter, subreddits, forums like 8Chan)

Far Right Characteristics


if there is a single characteristic all far right parties share, it is nationalism (Ellinas, 2007)

  • Extreme right parties emphasise law and order, and want more resources to the police
  • Cultural political identity: ‘a sense of belonging to a human community with which one shares some values, history, cultural references or heritage’ (Harrison & Bruter 2011: 39), excludes those seen as essentially different (‘foreigners’).
  • Internal homogenisation (“aliens” should be expelled or assimilated) (Mudde 2000)


(Greek) fear of strangers

  • The “strangers” may or may not be ethnic groups – could also be sexuality, religion, class
  • Regional and local rivalries can contain elements of xenophobia (e.g. Europe)
  • Target is usually immigrants

Xenophobia in the context of post-racism

  • Post WWII racism unacceptable in public political discourse
  • When you open the English Defense League Facebook page, the first line you see is ‘No racism, no violence’.


  • What effect has post-racism had on far right anti-immigrant; anti-Islamic groups?
  • Extremism going underground? Or being adopted by the mainstream?


  • Contrast between the ‘real people’ and the parasitic elites
  • Reclaim power for the people from the bureaucratic elite (UK state and EU)
  • Believe that the elite’s political correctness used to silence opposition
  • Media (seen as unified, hostile + controlled by powerful)
  • Economic elite (banks, austerity etc.)

‘The ruling liberals are out of touch with public opinion. They just don’t understand what normal people think especially the middle and lower class’ (BNP member)

Pro-capitalist or welfare chauvinist

  • Kitschelt (1995) argued that a right-wing, pro-capitalist outlook is a key ingredient in the extreme right’s “winning formula” (right-wing economics together with anti-immigration)
  • However, since the late 1990s, a more positive (less negative) view on the welfare state is more common. More welfare to ‘own’ people (Mudde).

Anti democracy?

  • Procedural definition of democracy: Anti-democracy: advocacy of dictatorship, restrictions on the right to vote, etc.
  • Substantive definition of democracy: Anti-democracy: advocacy of restrictions in human rights and liberties (e.g. death penalty, European Court of Human Rights)


  • Strong leader: ‘Le Pen is someone exceptional. The first time I met him, I was shivering for hours afterwards’ (Front National member)

Insecure masculinity “Angry white men”

Violence is socio-structurally generated and individually psychologically justified

  • feelings of disadvantage and marginalization prompt resentment and anger in young males who feel their voices are not being heard. This disenchantment manifests itself through resentment and hostility directed at the scapegoat for their ills: the Islamic ‘other’.
  • Young men turn experiences of acute inequality and disenchantment into inner psychological scripts that justify their own ‘heroic’ status when involved in violent confrontation. (Treadwell & Garland, 2011)


Recent studies/explanations:

post industrialism and ‘globalisation’: changed structure of capitalist economies hurt particular segments of society. Most vulnerable social groups are thought to be the ones most likely to be swayed by far right appeals.

Repeated survey evidence suggested that far right voters are young, usually over represented among blue collar workers and small business owners.

Men are over represented in the far right vote, while women are under represented

Globalised uncertainty and insecurity contributes to calls for collective identification, self-defence, self-reassurance, leading to Far right voting (Ignazi, P , 2003: 210-2)

Michael Samers (1999) described populist xenophobic politics as providing a spatial vent. Populist politicians channel anxieties about the pressures of ‘globalization’ like under and unemployment into a form that blames the immigrant for their woes.

The term populism is prejudicial?

Populist politics is used to refer to discriminatory views, like anti-immigrant views, or supposedly unreasonable views, like protectionism or socialism. Is the term really just a way of saying popular views that ‘we’ don’t like? If so, who is the ‘we’ that used the term, and what are their investments? Is the term anti-democratic and elitist? Does it resonate with earlier patrician views denigrating ‘the rule of the mob’?

The Far Right and im/mobilities.

Far right politics seems to be embedded in the experience of sustained and inescapable precarity in the context of an inequality of mobilities. In England, for example, the experience of precarity includes resentment at de-industrialisation and financialisation, the privileging of London as a world/’global;’ city occuring in tandem with the marginalisation of former industrial strongholds, like West Yorkshire (see Townsend, 2016). Pressure on the welfare estate and working conditions in marginalised areas is viewed through a spatial vent (Samer, 1999) in which metropolitan elites are held responsible for unfair competition: the territorial and social mobility of immigrant groups is seen as being granted at the expense of the social mobility of local residents. The socio-economic and political capital and mobility of metropolitan professionals, tied in part to weakly regulated finance and trade, is also seen as being gained at the expense of a loss of agency over mobility among the precariat. This includes a loss of (upwards) social mobility, but also coerced displacement (for example, the need to move further from central areas like inner London, as well as well-performing rural cities and towns) because precarious wages are insufficient, and benefit conditions disallow housing in advantageous areas. Correspondingly, it is the most marginalised areas that typically receive the greatest number of immigrants requiring support (such as asylum seekers).

In these contexts liberal multiculturalism and support for immigration is viewed as a form of elite discrimination against those belonging to the precariat. Far right populists often appeal via cultural racism and xenophobia, but seek to do so in liberal (post-racist) forms that distinguish between a deserving (hardworking, liberal, Christian) national community and a forms undeserving illiberal other. This line of argument is directed at the liberal multicultural mainstream who are portrayed as unfairly (or treasonously) privileging the interests of dangerous others over the nation’s own deserving poor behind a rhetoric of anti-racism that disguises elite self-interest (both economic and symbolic/identitive).


Anderson, J. G. & Bjorklund, T. (2000) ‘Radical right-wing populism in Scandinavia: from tax revolt to neo-liberalism and xenophobia’ in Hainsworth, P. (ed.) The Politics of the

Extreme Right: from the margins to the mainstream. London: Pinter, 193-223.

Boomgaarden, Hajo G. and Rens Vliegenthart. (2007). ‘Explaining the Rise of Anti-Immigrant Parties: The Role of News Media Content.’ Electoral Studies 26(2): 404-417.

Davies, P. with Jackson, P. The Far Right in Europe: An Encyclopedia. Oxford: Greenswood World Publishing.

Goodwin, X (2011) ‘Right Response: Understanding and Countering Populist Extremism in Europe’

Hale-Williams, M. (2010) ‘Can Leopards change their spots?: Between xenophobia and trans-ethnic populism among West European Far Right Parties, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, 16(1), 111-134.

Harrison, S. and Bruter, M. Mapping Extreme Right Ideology: an empirical geography of the European extreme right. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Hewitt, R. (2005) White Backlash and the Politics of Multiculturalism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ignazi, P (2003) Extreme Right Parties in Western Europe, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Lemos, G. (2005) The Search for Tolerance: Challenging and changing racist attitudes and behaviour amongst young people, York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation,


Mammone, A. Godin, E. and Jenkins, B. (2012) Mapping the Extreme Right in Contemporary Europe: from local to transnational. London: Routledge

Mudde, C. (1995) ‘Right-wing extremism analyzed: A comparative analysis of the ideologies of three alleged right-wing extremist parties( NPD, NDP. CP’86)’, European Journal of Political Research, 27, 203-224.

Mudde, C. (1996) ‘The War of Words Defining the Extreme Right Party Family’, West European Politics 19(2), 225-248.

Pai, H. (2016), Angry White People: Coming Face-to-Face with the British Far Right, London, Zed Books.

Roxburgh, A. (2002) Preachers of hate: the rise of the far right. London: Gibson Square.

Runnymede Trust (1997) Islamophobia, a challenge for us all. London: Runnymede

Rhodes, J. (2009) “‘The Banal National Party: the routine nature of legitimacy’.” Patterns of Prejudice 43, no. 2: 142-160.

Rhodes, J. (2011) ‘It’s Not Just Them, It’s Whites as Well’: Whiteness, Class and BNP Support, Sociology, 45(1): 102-117.

Samers, M. (1999)“‘Globalization’ the geo-political economy of migration, and the‘spatial vent’”,Review of International Political Economy,6, 2: 163-196.

Schaine et al. (2002) Shadows over Europe: The Development and Impact of the Extreme Right in Western Europe. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Svasand, L. (2003) ‘Scandinavian Right-Wing Radicalism’ in Betz, H. G. and Immerfall, S. (eds) The New Politics of the Right.

Smith, M, Colliver, C (2016) The impact of Brexit on far-right groups in Britain, London, Institute for Strategic Dialogue

Sprague-Jones, J. (2011) Extreme right-wing vote and support for multiculturalism in Europe, Ethnic and Racial Studies 34(4): 535-555.

Treadwell, J. and Garland, J. (2011) Masculinity, Marginalization and Violence: A Case Study of the English Defense League, British Journal of Criminology, 51(4): 621-634.

Yilmaz, F. (2012) Right-wing hegemony and immigration: How the populist far-right achieved hegemony through the immigration debate in Europe, Current Sociology, 60(3) 368-381.

Non academic reading and viewing

Townsend, M (2016) Why has the far right made West Yorkshire a home?, The Observer, 18 June

Channel 4 (2015) Angry, White, and Proud, online, http://www.channel4.com/programmes/angry-white-and-proud

Draft. Lecture (autumn semester). The US and the tired huddled masses

American Protectionism

  • American representations of identity/Imagined Community
  • Migration
  • Terrorism
  • Islam
  • Globalisation and Protectionism
  • Group discussion

The popular idea of America:
the ‘Land of the Free

‘Land of the Free’ a refrain from the US national anthem (Start Spangled Banner)

Immigration and emancipation (freeing the slaves) part of the founding myth of America

  • 1863: proclamation made Thanksgiving Day a national holiday, Abraham Lincoln gave thanks to God for having “largely augmented our free population by emancipation and by immigration.“
  • New Colossus, by Emily Lazarus, 1883

    Give me your tired, your poor,

    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,

    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Imagined community: US as a land of freedom, a nation of immigrants

Ideas about the nation are socially constructed

  • Anderson: Imagined Community, the narratives and forms of communication that work to construct a shared sense of national community
  • Statue of Liberty & Lazurus poem, Lincoln’s speech different kinds of representation that help to construct a way of imagining the US national community


Migration to the US: industrialisation, urbanisation

18th-19th century

  • Industrial Revolution.
  • British Isles late 18th C+
  • Low Countries & Germany early-mid 19th C
  • Eastern and southern Europe late 19th – early 20th C centuries
  • Each revolution produced waves of migration to US of unemployed

20th-21st century globalisation, new industrial revolutions

  • Mexico (massive rural to urban migration in Mexico),
  • Also, Philippines, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Korea, India, and the Dominican Republic
  • Each revolution produced waves of migration to US of economic, including unemployed


Migration to US (2014)

  • US population = 264,000,000
  • 1.3 million foreign-born individuals legally moved to US:
  • Indian migrants 147,500 ,
  • Chinese 131,800,
  • Mexican 130,000 (but many more undocumented),
  • Canadian 41,200,
  • Philippines, 40,500.

Undocumented migrants in US

Total undocumented population 2010-2014

  • 11,009,000

States with highest numbers

  • California 3,019,000
  • Texas 1,470,000
  • New York 850,000
  • Approx. half of the undocumented migrants in the US from Mexico; between 5-6,000,000

(Kennedy, 2010, 83)

  • Total Mexican immigrants resident in US approx .11,700,000

(MPI, 2016)


America accepted 84,995 refugees in 2015-16.

  • between 1990 and 1995average 112,000 refugees
  • Much more than 2002, when fewer than 27,000 refugees were admitted following the September 11 terrorist attacks
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo contributed (the highest number of refugees last year at 16,370. Syria was second, with 12,587 refugees from the war-torn nation entering the U.S., followed by Burma, Iraq and Somalia

Muslim citizens and refugees

  • Muslims make up just one percent of the U.S. population.
  • During 2016, Muslims outnumbered Christians among refugees for the first time since 2006.

Muslim 46% Christian 44% refugees

(Pew Research Center,  2016)


  • The typical American overestimates the proportion of Muslims by 17:1
  • Only 41 percent of registered voters said that the U.S. should feel an obligation to take in Syrian refugees PBS, 2016

Trump, migration, protectionism

Trump and Mexican migration

Trump committed to building a wall between Mexico and the US

He committed to deporting undocumented migrants (to sending them back to Mexico and elsewhere)

He committed to removing birthright citizenship (where the children of migrants resident in the US are granted citizenship)

“When Mexico sends it people, they’re not sending their best. … They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people” (Trump, 2016).

Crowds at his political rallies chanted “build the wall”

Trump, Muslim, and Refugee Migration

Before the election Trump said there should be a complete ban on Muslim immigration

  • Trump issues an 90 day ban on migrants from Muslim Majority Countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen (Jan, 2017)
  • Trump stated he preferred the US should take Christian refugees
  • However, US courts judged that the ban is not legal (religious discrimination)
  • Trump issues a new ban on migrants from Muslim Majority Countries, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen (not Iraq)
  • Unlike the first ban, people with visas and green cards exempted, refugees from the banned countries must be treated the same as other refugees; there can be no preference for Christian refugees

Trump, Terrorism, Muslims

  • Migrants from the banned countries not those involved in fatal terrorism in the US (i.e., 9/11 terrorists from UAE, Saudi Arabia)
  • US Dept. Homeland Security advised the ban not effective for preventing terrorism
  • Many US terrorist acts conducted by US citizens: ie., Dylan Roof killed 9 African Americans at church service
  • Obama famously observed that more people drown in their own bathwater per year than from terrorism in the US


Social immobility: American industry, unemployment

Relocating jobs

Since the 1980s, many companies sourced labour in the countries experiencing the new industrial revolution, like China, India …

Often the same areas producing migration to the US

  • This has given rise to high unemployment in former industrial areas like Detroit, where the car industry failed
  • Many of those badly affected are white working class people who formerly had stable jobs and incomes

US Unemployment: who/what is to blame?

  • Trump blames undocumented (Mexican) immigrants for “the American family that loses their jobs, their income, or their loved one”.

Terrorism: who/what is to blame?

  • American openness to migration (allowing dangerous Muslims & refugees into US)

Poor economy:

  • Globalised free trade arrangements that fail to protect American industry/workers

Trump’s Protectionism: “Making America Great Again

  • Protecting America from external threats:

Undocumented, Mexican, Muslim, refugee migrants, terrorists

  • Changing trade deals and tariffs to make foreign products more expensive in the US, to protect US industry



Cobb, C. and Stuek, S. eds., (2005) Globalization and the American South, Athens, University of Georgia Press (Ch. 1)

Wacquant, L. (2009), Punishing the Poor: The Neoliberal Government of Social Insecurity, Durham & London, Duke University Press (Ch. 2)

Wacquant, L. (2008), Urban Outcasts: A Comparative Sociology of Advanced Marginality, Cambridge, Polity Press (Ch. 8)

Schueller, M.J. (2009) Locating Race: Global Sites of Post-Colonial Citizenship, Albany, State University of New York.

Bourguignon, F (2015) The Globalization of Inequality, New Jersey, Princeton University Press (Ch. 2).

Desmond, M. (2016) Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, London, Penguin.

Peterson, R.D. and Krivo, L.J. (2010) Divergent Worlds: Neighbourhood Crime and the Spatial-Racial Divide, New York, Russell Sage Foundation, (Ch. 2).

Kalleberg, A. (2011) Good Jobs, Bad Jobs: The Rise of Polarized and Precarious Employment Systems in the United States, 1970s-2000s, New York, Russell Sage Foundation.

Sassen, S. (2013) ‘Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy’, (Ch. 1) Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London, UK, Belknap Press, Harvard University.

Working paper: A Tale of contested re/production: China’s labour inequality, transactional sexuality and relational filiality.

Introduction: a feminist-materialist approach to reform-era social re/production

1.1 This working paper gives a feminist-materialist reading of transactional sex, relational filiality and labour relations as aspects of contested social re/production during China’s reform and post reform eras (1978 onwards). Drawing on Gramscian and Fraserian theoretical frameworks to examine the politics of social re/production, it examines consent to and contest prevailing modes of post-reform era social re/production, its hegemonic ideologies and state-society complex among female migrant workers and actors involved in transactional sexual relations .

1.2 Social reproduction is generally regarded as highly stratified and multiscaled, encompassing individuals, families, communities, and entire social systems in biological, labour force and caring reproduction (Glen, 1992; Colen, 1995; Kofman, 2014:81; Bakker, 2007).  Throughout the paper I use the hyphenated term “re/production” to emphasize the feminist materialist argument that the productive realm of capitalist accumulation and labour depends on the reproductive realms of sexual relations and filial support (Federici, 2004; Mies, 1994). This dependency is an crucial component of the Chinese reform and post reform eras’  primitive accumulation and ongoing ‘market liberalisation’,  including its reliance on the surplus army of rural young women for industry, services, filial and sexual support.

1.3 This analysis of reform era social re/production draws on intersectional, historical-materialist and multivalent approaches to sexuality and sexual labour. Kempadoo (2004) examined the various practice of sexual labour in the colonial-era Caribbean that were partially determined by historically specific and intersecting dimensions of racism, gender oppression and class exploitation, within particular modes of re/production. Caribbean women experienced exploitative sexual relations within slavery regimes, being hired out to white and free coloured families for domestic work with the understanding that they would provide sexual and procreative services; concubines provided housekeeping as well as sexual services for their owners and other white men; Caribbean women were otherwise hired out as prostitutes to help maintain the profitability of plantations (Beckles, 1998: 143; Kempadoo, 2004: 5). In these circumstances, some slave and free colored women used sexual labour “as an income-generating activity, providing some autonomy from the harsh conditions of agricultural or domestic work, a means to obtain freedom for themselves or their children from slavery, or to economically survive once slavery was abolished (Kempadoo, 2004:53-4). Kempadoo thus argued that in the slavery and emancipation eras, Carribbean women’s sexuality  was not just a site of re/productive exploitation, but also a ‘pillar of resistance’.

1.4 Kempadoo’s  account reflects Caribbean women’s agent use and understanding of transacted sexual and reproductive relations. The sensitive historical listening of her approach  informs this paper’s analysis of Chinese migrant workers and other actors  involved in transacted sexual relations in terms of the modes of re/production particular to the reform era, the relationship of transactional sex to wider labour relations and socially-reproductive (filial) relations, and of intersecting forms of contest and consent within and across these dimensions.

1.5 The term ‘transactional’ sex refers to sex-related practices that involve transactions between parties such as commodified sex services (those provided in return for money), but also the broader range of practices that serves ‘production and reproduction’ in ways that include pleasure and the meeting of material, economic, spiritual and procreative needs (Kempadoo, 2004: 62; Truong, 1990; White, 1990; Lim, 1998). A broad range of commercial sex practices has been a feature the Chinese reform era including, for example, those of hostesses, second wives (èrnǎi), and compensated dating. The continuum of transacted reform era practices cannot be subsumed within categories of prostitution (Jeffreys, 2004), as practices such as dating and marriage that are commonly regarded as non-commercial nonetheless share elements of exchange with the more obviously transactional practices of commodified sex (Li, 1997).

1.6 The paper analyzes transactional sexuality alongside filiality and ‘public’ and ‘private’ labour contests of — and accommodations with — hegemonic social formations. It focuses, in part, on female migrant workers involved in transactional sex, as academics working on gender, labour and prostitution studies have taken their situation as exemplifying some of the key multidimensional faultlines of reform era inequality,  coercion, consent, and contest  (refs/fn). It thereby engages with questions of transformation and continuity that have been posed in reform era studies of gender, sexuality and prostitution (Zheng, 2009), as well as studies of labour relations and dissent (Pun, 2005; ). These include questions of the extent to which migrant workers’ use of transactional sex is or isn’t transformative in regards to Chinese patriarchy (for example, Zheng, 2009), and the extent to which their labour dissent is or isn’t transformative in regards to a working class political-subjectivity – the emergence of a labour movement — a ‘class for itself’ (Chan and Pun, 2009; Franceschini, 2017).1 These questions, respectively, posit (particular kinds of) gender equality and class equality as assumed horizons of justice, with writers taking corresponding objects of transformation as their targets. Zheng (2009) for example, targets sex workers’ beliefs and values, the patriarchal state and market, and Chinese filiality. Chan and Pun (2009) target the hegemonic party-state and Chinese neoliberalism (2009).

The intersectional character of Chinese social relations

1.7 Studies of Chinese patriarchy recognise the intersection of gender with other forms of inequality. The classical view describes filial relationships organised by patrilineal descent and inheritance, patrilocal residence, strong parental authority, with power invested in the senior generation, reinforced by state law and property ownership. Patriarchy is thus viewed intersectionally: male-to-female gender inequality is considered as one dimension in relation to others: including class, age, and rural/urban location (Santos and Harrel, 2017: 4-5; 7-10).As the political theorist Nancy Fraser argues, the dominant position of any one dimension of inequality is historically contingent. In the Maoist and reform eras, for example, rural/urban or political-status inequality has been the dominant dimension of inequality and patriarchal gender inequality might not have been the primary lens of analysis, even where the subjected group were primarily women or men.

1.8 As a category of analysis, class-inequality has moved from the mainstream to the margins of Chinese social science. Many Chinese social science scholars, including academics working on prostitution had, until recently, abjured class as a category of analysis (Wu, 2014: x). This was, in part, a reaction to the deligitimising of the Mao-era ideology of class warfare. Gender studies academics, for example, rejected framing womens’ inequality in terms of employment, in favour of examinations of psychology, marriage, sexuality, crime and education (Jeffreys, 2004: 91). Chinese social scientists, more broadly, have generally preferred a language of stratum to one of class in order to avoid the relational and conflictual character of class within historical materialism, in accordance with the party-state’s discourse of ‘harmonious’ society (Guo, 2008:51). 

1.9. This shift has been coterminious with the deminise of class analysis in Anglophone social sciences where postmodernism and postructuralism have overtaken historical materialism as preferred paradigms, with a preference for the language of discourse and disciplinary and actutarial forms of government and power, in contrast to ideology, hegemony and contest. Intersectional studies have focussed on gender and ‘race’ while generally eliding or neglecting class (Mann, 2012: 112). This has sometimes been a means of redressing the tendency of some Marxists towards an overdetermining economism and neglect or subordination of other dimensions as aspects of class  (Bohrer, 2018: 49-50; Giminez, 2001 ;Smith and Smith, 1983:122; Alcoff, 2011; Gedalof, 2013).

1.10 Bohrer (2018:54), however, follows Gimenez in arguing for retaining class as a category of analysis as “class oppression is distinctive and necessitates a different kind of treatment, politically and theoretically, than race and gender”. This specific treatment

requires a wholesale analysis of capitalism as a system and a structure of material
relations of production and reproduction, accumulation and dispossession,
which has its roots in political economy and effects in the multifaceted
realms of culture, ideology and politics (Bohrer, 54).

1.11 For Bohrer (2018), capitalism is the ‘matrix of domination’ in which slavery, colonialism, patriarchy and white supremacy were forms of  inseparable oppression that were historically concreted in and through one another. Within this Marxist-intersectional analysis, capitalism is the synthesis of class, race, gender, sexuality, colonisation and imperialism systems of dispossession. Thus while class cannot be considered the sole dimension of capitalist accumulation and antagonism, each dimension should be viewed as one of the interlocking aspects of oppression.

1.12 Arguably then, if capitalism is taken as the matrix of domination then class remains an important category of analysis in the Chinese context, given the prevailing view that social inequality has intensified and the position of those who might be categorised as workers worsened during and as a result of the reform era opening to neoliberalism (Goodman and Zang, 2008:2; Wu, 2014, x). Measured by the Gini coefficient, the PRC shifted from 0.22 in 1978 – one of the most equitable scores ever recorded (Adelmen and Sunding, 1987), to 0.465 in 2016, while the coefficient for wealth rose to 0.739 in 2010 (Li and Wan, 2015). These figures might be read as suggesting  However, to conclude that China’s reform involved a denigration from  one of the most to one of the least equitable societies may be debatable insofar as Maoist-era equality has been overestimated (as discussed below). It may be more accurate to observe that legacies of Maoist era inequitable class relations and conflict continue in transformed and exacerbated form in the reform and post-reform era. These transformed continuities were evident in the realigned form of party-state-society complex that includes hegemonic dominance of the managerial and professional classes in partnership with, or direct participation in the entrepreneurial class (Goodman and Zang, 2008:5-6, 13; Goodman, 2008: 24-5).

1.13 Historical materialist studies of commodified sexual relations suggest that viewing capitalism alone as the matrix of domination may be insufficient in the Chinese context. Pan Suiming’s work (2009), for example, demonstrates transformed continuities of class domination. The sexologist critiques prostitution as reform era exploitation of public resources and working class women by elite cadre involving cooperation with the entrepreneurial class involved in entertainment. However, most of the literature on reform era prostitution cites the inequitable position of marginalised women as a key driver of widespread commodified sexuality and sexual relations without reference to class relations (see for example Liu, xx). This refusal of historical materialist perspectives is particularly striking given that the majority of those involved in commodified sexual practices come from some of the most exploited stratum of Chinese labour.

1.14 Analysis of class relations is more evident in academic studies of reform and post reform era political economy and labour relations. For some writers, class exploitation is key to reform era state-corporate complex, which utilises flexible mass production and classic low wage regimes dependent on flexible and cheap labour (Luthje, Luo and Zhang, 2013:24).These regimes have differing consequences for migrant and urban labour. In terms of the former, the party-state’s hukou system ensured a massive supply of surplus (rural-urban) migrant labour, restricting migrant-workers’ status to that of rural residents and thereby limiting their access to the benefits of urban residence, including the leverage that urban residence would have given in wage disputes. In terms of the latter, these reform era regimes have witnessed the party-state withdrawal from the ‘iron bowl’ social contract with urban ‘master workers’ wherein the state supplemented wages with secure welfare benefits including health, housing and old age pensions. Instead, the reform era wages and benefits have been negotiated in the private sector with a far smaller supplement of state-provided welfare.

1.15 The intersectionality of the view that class domination works through Chinese ‘neo-liberalism’ is furthered in studies of gendered and generational and locational labour stratification and contest. Urban labour studies have also included a focus on class and generation,  younger generations of workers competing outside of the ‘iron bowl’ social contract constitute an urban precariat with insecure employment and welfare benefits, while the generation of older workers have fought to retain what they can of the benefits of the Maoist social contract.

1.16 The contestation of exclusion from the benefits of urban citizenship (Pun (2012) has been, for example, particular to young female migrants’ adverse inclusion in the Chinese-global circuits of production, on the basis of marginalisation in all of these dimensions. Pun Ngai argued that “the demand for cheap and productive labor to fuel transnational capital accumulation requires a gendering process of the working class” involving the construction of a gendered-class subject and gendering of production and reproduction  (Pun, 2012: 178). China’s export industries’ dormitary system providing on-site housing for young female rural migrants combined with the bifurcated rural/urban political economies to maintain a supply of (supposedly) compliant, productive and temporary labor.  

1.17 The multidimensional situation of young female migrant-workers bears some similarity to that of women involved in transactional sex in part because they form the social segment from which most sex workers come. Beyond that overlap their are further similarities in terms of academic perspectives regarding the degrees to which female migrant workers and sex workers  consent to and contest their situation. Both feminist labour studies and prostitution studies tend to see young women as victims compelled or coerced by structural factors into poorly paid work or recourse to prostitution. In labour studies, for example, young women are viewed as having been compelled to leave rural backgrounds since the decollectivisation of the 1980s and loss of land rights, and limited to low level factory work by lack of access to higher education. They are also percieved as having been compelled to return before the end of their perceived marriagable age by the difficulty of finding an urban resident for marriage. Yet the feminist view is more nuanced than one of pure victimhood-sans-agency. Pun et al, for example, see the dormitary regime and female workers’ solidarity as sites of resistance, and many studies reflect the degree to which female migrants’ choice of urban factory work reflects a refusal of rural gendered marginalisation. Sex workers, similarly, are not only viewed as victims but recognised as having consented to their work and having done so, in part, as a form of refusal of the marginalisation of rural life and urban factory and service work

Multivalent and intersectionali contests for substantive citizenship

2.1.2 In the section above I observed that the accomodations and contests of female migrant labourers and sex workers are set within particular horizons of justice,with labour studies positing the overcoming of class, gender and locational  inequality within the paradigm of Chinese neoliberalism, and prostitution studies positing the overcoming of gender inequality within the paradigm of patriarchy. In the former, Pun and others focus in part on access to the status of urban citizenship, and we could gloss the anti-patriarchal perspective as advocating access to the benefits of citizenship-sans-gender discrimination. The accomodations and contests of female migrant workers and sex workers can be thought of in relation to substantive citizenship, the status of enjoying the rights and benefits of membership in the national community. This may be best thought of in terms of matters of degree, rather than a dichotomy between inclusion and exlusion. That is because the empirical evidence in regards to these groups in the reform era does demonstrate forms of exclusion (for example, from the status of urban residence), at the same time there is a continuum of forms of inclusion in the circuits of the Chinese-transnational economy ranging from adverse to beneficial.

2.1.2 Nancy Fraser’s (1995) trivalent concept of ‘parity of participation’ is useful in considering intersecting accommodations and contests over degrees of substantive citizenship in enabling consideration of cultural, economic  and political valencies . Trivalence parity involves issues of status recognition, issues of exploitation, marginalization, and deprivation (material redistribution), and political representation – the extent to which the architecture of political space denies or allows groups a voice (Fraser, 1995: 70; 2010: 365-6; 2003: 43). Deficits in one or more of the trivalencies result in disparity of participation, and groups suffering such deficits are denied equitable access to substantive rights and benefits of citizenship.

2.1.3 As noted above, the marginalisation of female migrant workers is multidimensional, simultaneously involving inequalities of class, gender, generational and locational status (Pun, 2012). In Fraser’s terms, female migrant workers have contested their labour conditions, refusing misrecognition on the basis of gendered rural status, and the lack of urban status and its rights and benefits. The have contested maldistribution, often protesting against poor pay, late and non-payment. Political representation has also been important because the architecture of industrial dispute management has generally worked to contain workers’ claims (So, 2013), and has been particularly silencing in terms of female workers’ claims. Female migrant workers contests have thus been cultural, economic and political. As I will argue below such trivalent protests are akin to the refusal of those involved in transactional sex of subordinate service and industrial work in urban centres under the hukou and sexist-labour systems (key elements of the architecture of their marginalisation).

2.1.4 The concept of trivalent parity does not, in itself, address the question of the degree to which contest or consent challenge or reaffirm dominant norms and institutions. Fraser approaches such questions in terms of ‘affirmative’ and ‘transformative justice’. Contests may be “affirmative”, “correcting inequitable outcomes of social arrangements without disturbing the underlying framework that generates them” (Fraser 1995: 82). Transformative justice requires restructuring of “the underlying generative framework” (Fraser, 1995: 82). This might, for example, accord with social justice feminist’s aim of addressing the causes of underlying inequalities that coerce impoverished women into ‘prostitution’ (Liu, 20xx). Affirmative and transformative justice initiatives are not simply opposites: Although an affirmative contest might merely reaffirm an underlying paradigm, an accumulation of affirmative changes may also lay the ground for future transformative change.2 For example reducing maldistribution may involve affirmative improvements that lay the ground for transformed gender relations as occured, to an extent, following the new Communist regimes’ Marriage Law (1950). On the other hand, actors may be conflicted between affirmative and transformative tendencies in regards to particular horizons of justice: Zheng (2009),as we will discuss below, argued that migrant sex workers were engaged in actions and beliefs that worked to overcome some aspects of gender equality but at the same time further entrenched them in patriarchal oppression.

2.1.5  Gramsci’s concepts of ‘commonsense’, ‘good sense’ and ‘contradictory consciousness’ are useful starting points for considering the ways in which actors might both affirm and attempt to transform the underlying generative paradigms — hegemonic discourse and common sense, in Gramscian terms — giving structure to inequalities. Hegemony is the ideological dominance of the values and norms of a dominant group over its subordinates. A hegemonic state-society formation maintains power through a balance of consent based on popular beliefs and values (common sense), and coercion (backed by the use of force). “Common sense” refers to the ‘everyday consciousness or popular thought of the masses’, while “good sense” is a people’s ‘instinctive understanding of its basic conditions of life and the nature of the constraints and forms of exploitation to which it is commonly subjected’ (Hall, 1996: 432). These are reflexive and sometimes incoherent and contradictory aspects of popular thought. Gramsci argued that actors might experience contradictory consciousness in the conflicts between their critical ‘good sense’ grounded in experience and their ‘commonsense’ positions aligned to the a hegemonic ideology.

2.1.6 While the dichotomy of ideological common sense opposed to “instinctive” good sense have been subject to a great deal of useful criticism, I will argue that the idea of conflicted consciousness can be usefully reworked if we combine the critique of critical theories’ opposition between science and myth with a concept of intersectional consciousness. In the former regard we can follow Jo Doezema’s account of myth and ideology. …..

Dis/harmonising labour relations.

2.1.8 In this section I will draw on Fraserian and Gramscian approaches to discuss hegemony and resistance in the dimensions of migrant labour relations, filial and sexual relations, beginning with Gramscian accounts of Chinese party-state-society transformations, the maintenance and contest of hegemony and its modes of production in the dimension of Maoist and reform era labour relations. 

2.1.9 Transformations in China’s state-society formation developed in waves of hegemonic crisis throughout the late and post-Maoist era. The CCP political power structure and its centrally planned production regimes enabled the party-state to extract surplus labor on a massive scale, mobilising the rural, rural-to-urban and urban populations for rapid capital accumulation, while overcoming some of the major pre-existing social inequalities.

2.1.10 The Maoist regime also created a new socio-political hierarchy. The party-state’s classification system ranked categories of people on a scale of sociopolitical merit combining a Marxist categorisation of socio-economic position with explicitly political criteria. Rural categories ranged from the valorised proletariat hired agricultural workers and poor peasants through to the disparaged bourgeoisie including rich peasants and landlords (Wu, 2014:40; Kraus, 1981, 185-7). By the mid-1950s,  most residents urban residents had been also classified on the basis of sociopolitical merit, with the scale ranging from valorised proletarian ‘workers,’ through to the less valued urban poor, and disparaged and discriminated bourgeoisie including ‘capitalists’, so-called ‘bad elements’, and ‘counter-revolutionaries’ etc (Wu, 2014:40; Kraus, 1981, 185-7). 

2.1.11 This status-based classification system allocated degrees of socialist citizenship on the basis of sociopolitical merit. At the abject end of the scale were the vilified groups who were regarded and treated as non-citizens (and often as enemy aliens).  At the higher end of the scale valorised groups received the status and substantive benefits  of citizenship in degrees, in direct relationship to their supposed socio-political merit. Those belonging to proletariat categories, for example, recieved preferential treatment in terms of political positions, educational opportunities and employment (Meisner, 1999: 317). This merit system was cut-across by the rural-urban divide: although theoretically equal, urban citizens were privileged over rural citizens from the mid-1950s onwards, when the hukou system began to restrict peasant’s mobility and prevent their settlement in and access to the benefits of urban areas.It was also undercut by the disproportionate valorisation and reward of party cadres.

2.1.12 Political and socio-economic power was entrenched in the hands of the party-states’ vanguard, an elite bureaucratic cadre. As Wu (2013: 166) argues, while the bureaucratic stratum did not ‘possess private property in the means of production’, its ‘property was the state’: ‘surplus extraction was achieved by the extra-economic power monopolised by the state, unmediated by commodity relations’.3 Elite party cadre enjoyed ‘yituhua’— the term Chen Erjin coined to describe their fusion of economic-and-political power — which provided the basis for the excessive status and privileges granted to them and their families (Wu, 2014:206; ). 

2.1.13 From the mid-1950s onwards, the bureaucracy swelled in size and in the proportion of state resources used to support it (dipping briefly only to re-enlarge after the Cultural revolution). Dominating the social hierarchy, the bureacratic was itself was steeply hierarchical, with the highest grade receiving a salary greater than 30 times that of the lowest grade (Wu, 2014:25; Yang, 2007; Lee, 1991: 195, 199). Cadre ranking determined a range of privileges on top of salaries, including size and quality of housing, mode of travel, access to domestic services including chefs and nurses, access to special medical services, quality of schooling (Wu, 2014: 25). Senior cadre reportedly received perks on top of their high wages, including private, villa-like residences, domestic servants, chefs, private cars, etc (Wu, 2014:32-3).

new and multiple forms of social inequality, including wage inequality, severe shortages of food and other consumer-items, housing shortages; and domination ….a lack of civil rights and political agency (Wu, 2013: 159, 166-7).

These hardships were experienced alongside the emergence of  

Despite the intended class revolt of the Cultural Revolution,


2.1.12 The intense  socio-political inequality in the 1970s led to widespread dissent in the form of “primitive” political protest including illegal economic activity, production slow-downs, sabotage and theft (Bergère, 1979), as well as a proliferation of anti-bureaucratic forms of political critique (Wu, 2013). 


2.1.13 Deng’s (post-1978) reforms commenced a top-down passive revolution in which the party-state made  consent-based and coercive adjustments in order to maintain its hegemony. These included the opening of the market economy and the opportunity for participation in consumer society promoted by a discourse of “xiaokang” in which economic development would “lead Chinese people to common prosperity in the future” (Cai, 2008: 15; Wu 2013; Su, 2011). …. crack downs …

2.1.14  Market-reform privatisation and its primitive accumulation of former state-run and owned entities and resources led to further social inequality and injustice. Key problems include corruption, rural-urban inequality, uneven economic growth, income disparity, abusive industrial regimes, widespread unemployment, welfare withdrawal and the breaking of the ‘iron bowl’ social contract with ‘master workers’, authoritarian suppression of dissent, and environmental degradation.

2.1.15 Rural residents and migrant workers whose surplus labour fueled the engine of China’s ‘fourth-wave industrial revolution’, bore the brunt of reform era inequality. As noted above, the urban registration (hekou) system works to extract their surplus labour cheaply (Zhang, F., 2014; Fan, 2008), while restricting their access to the benefits of urban citizenship (subsidized housing, education, healthcare, welfare), and ability to raise the price of their labour (Ngai, 2012; Sum, 2017).

2.1.16 Rural migrant workers have been subject to flexible mass production and low wage classic regimes (Luthje, Luo, and Zhang, 2013) in low-end construction, manufacturing and service jobs (Zhang, F., 2014; Fan, 2008). Along with low wages, these regimes have been characterised by long working hours, forced overtime, pay arrears, a lack of collective agreements, and routine violations of legal standards including inadequate safety measures (Luthje, Luo, and Zhang, 2013; Hui and Chan, 2011; Lee, 2007).

2.1.17 Amongst this group, young women have been the most marginalised, experiencing greater precarity, lower wages and greater employment restriction than men (Ngai, …).

2.1.18 Consequently (as discussed below) there has been a sustained period of resistance and rebellion amongst those deprived of former ‘iron bowl surities and the younger generation of urban workers, and particularly among migrant workers.  In response to the sustained hegemonic crisis represented by working class dissent and leftist agitation, the party state worked to deflect potential mobilization of the masses against the inequalities of China’s reform and opening up (So, 2014). Party-state discourse worked  to ensure conflicts that were no longer presented as matters of class-conflict but instead in terms of societal stratficiation and confrontations requiring ‘harmonisation’ (Xing, 2014). The ideological vision of the ‘harmonious  society’ (2002), was one in which “all people will do their best, each individual has his/her proper place, and everybody will get along in harmony with each other” (Renmin Ribao, 2005/02/20, in Holbig, 2006).

2.1.19 However, workers frequently rejected the harmony myth in favour of collective actions such as protests, strikes, demonstrations and other collective and individual acts, including intentional negligence and self-harm. The frequency of ‘mass incidents’ (the official term for protests, strikes and demonstrations) in the Reform era rose from 10,000 in 1993 to 127, 467 in 2008 (CLB, 2009a; 2009b). These forms of resistance refuse both the maldistribution of exploitative working conditions, and misrecognition and misrepresentation inherent in the party-states’ ‘harmonising’ architecture of justice and its limited space for voicing dissent (see, for example, So, 2013).

2.1.20 In response the party-state supported harmonization discourse with new laws, mediation and material benefits in order to attempt to maintain workers’ consent. Measures aimed at containing labour unrest included partial amelioration of the urban registration system, and industrial regulation (Su, 2011; Hui, 2017; Hui and Chan, 2012; Shaopeng, 2016:66). Formal mechanisms —generally under the umbrella of the state-controlled All-China Federation of Trade Unions  — for industrial mediation have been a key element for supressing dissent and maintaining consent.

2.1.21 … reform era = war of position … passive revolution … affirmation of hegemonic consent? or entrenching of despotic government … 

in terms of good and common sense … not=; no faith in ACDTU and mediation … no faith in “harmony”? …amongst those who resist (subject of labor surveys etc) …

Dis/harmonising filial relations

2.2.1 The myth of harmonious society stretches across all aspects of social re/production. State discourse seeks to render the family as central to the hegemony of its model of harmony (Shue, 2004; Zavoretti, 2016:1219), building on commonsense norms of filiality, gender, and sexuality (Zhang, L. 2009). Within this, family’s filiality has been valorised as the prime means of social welfare (Su, 2011; Hui, 2017; Hui and Chan, 2012; Shaopeng, 2016:66). Zavoretti (2016a) suggests that sex is, moreover, subsumed with concepts of zeren (responsibility), including filial relations of material and emotional support between bride and groom, and with children, parents, and parents-in-law.

2.2.2 At the same time, the ideology and experience of market competetion has affected good and common sense regarding filiality. Reform era market economic pressures have intensified the economic aspect of filiality and sexual relations, including marriage. For example, a combination of the One Child policy and an inadequate social security system has meant that marriages between two single-child spouses in urban centres must often bear the weight of care for four aging parents as well as a child (Wang and Zhou, 2010:266; Fowler, Gao and Carlson, 2010:347). Urban male spouses are expected to own an apartment (or have a substantial deposit) in order to attract a wife of sufficient suzhi  (Jeffreys, 2015: 33, 43; Xu, 2013: 4), at a time of expensive urban housing (Huang, 2013). Many parents — traditionally responsible for their child’s wedding costs — now view housing as one of their responsibilities. Marriage choices involve families in financially burdensome issues of housing, social welfare, and security, including urban household registration. In this context, the traditional criteria of “a marriage between families of equal social rank” (mendang hudui) often prevails, requiring balance between couple’s familial economic and social status (Wang and Nehring, 2014: 585).

2.2.3 For some commentators, Reform era transformations in socio-economics and social values include some movement away from the collective value system to individualization (Hansen and Svarverud, 2010; Yan, 2009, 2010; Jeffreys 2015:50). Yan (2009; 2011) argued that there had been a shift from a willingness to sacrifice in the service of the collective and extended family to a narrower concern for the immediate family and that intergenerational reciprocity now works on the basis of market exchange rather than filial piety. However, the degree to which values have transformed from collective to individualist has been subject to critical reappraisal.  Xiaoying Qi (2016:48) argues that both young and elder generations are engaged in a process of reinventing traditional values and practices of filiality in a manner that allows for altruism and self-interest —”tempered altruism’ (Lucas and Stark, 1985) — rather than rejecting them in the pursuit of individualisation. She argues “the dominant family pattern is neither individualistic nor collectivistic but tends to be relational: individual members of families collaborate to secure cross-generational interests” (Qi, 2016: 49; see also Davis and Friedman, 2014; Fong, 2004: Ikels, 2004a).

2.2.4 Yan (2016: 245; 2011: 219) similarly described transformations in filiality in the rural (northeastern) context where an “increasing number of the elderly praised their married children (sons and daughters alike) for their wide-ranging support and care’ while noting that their children were supportive but not obedient. The transformed character of filiality and marriage decision-making has been based, in part, on the rising power of rural young women in relation to their parents-in-law (Yan, Y. 2006).  Young women have challenged their subordination as ‘voiceless dependents’ and gained authority over mate choice, family division — with most couples establishing independent households soon after marriage  —  and marriage transaction, the latter involving converted bridewealth paid directly to the bride and commonly used towards the couple’s housing (Yan, op cit). Young women engage in filial support from these positions of relative independence, rather than as subordinates within the patrilineal family household. These are shifts from vertical relationships of elder authority and filial obedience to horizontal relations of mutual care and support. Moreover, families have to collaborate because the state’s residual  welfare provision is matched by policies that make the family corporation the key provider of parental welfare (Wong 2008:90, in Qi, 2016:46; see also Zheng, 2009).4

2.2.5 The social norms that the discourse of harmony build on delineate positive status as the performance of reinvented filial duties, demonstrated by the taking of responsibility (jeren) while performative failure runs the risk of loss of “face” (mianzi) (Qi, 2011:46). Filiality is an aspect of hegemonic ideology, bringing state and family together under the rubric of social harmony, allowing the state to deflect contest of inadequate provision of welfare through shared “commonsense” beliefs and practices related to caring for parents and other family members. At the same time, relational filiality is a “good sense” renegotiation of values in the face of socio-economic pressures including massive domestic migration, urbanisation, market competition (without the safety net of state welfare), and intense and ongoing (primarily rural-to-urban) inequality that follow from the party-states committment to prosperity for the people.

Dis/harmonising sexual relations and sexuality

“Raise the Technological Level” 1956 One of many Maoist posters showing ‘iron women’ as equal contributors to production

2.3.1 The new PRC had sought to transform gender relations equitably, including an end to “feudal” practices of commodifying women. In the early Maoist era, the Marriage Law (1950) outlawed open concubinage, child betrothal, and forced marriage, and required that marriage should be a monogamous relationship based on socialist conjugality — balancing mutual affection and political affinity (Evans, 1997).  For many Chinese and Western commentators, the Maoist era has been represented as a period of conservative attitudes to sexuality in which the commodification of sexuality disappeared because of the repression of prostitution and the restraints imposed on rural sexual relations (see, for example, Jeffreys, 2015; Honig, 2003:144). Brothel-based prostitution was abolished and romantic love and sexuality were suppressed in some contexts (Zhang and Yue, 1998; Diamant, 2000:281-312), including repression of published texts concerning romantic or sexual themes (Honig, 2003: 147). However, transactional relations continued in forms that resisted or adjusted to communist norms and political economy (Pan, 1996: see also Hershatter, 1997: 332-3; Ruan, 1991). In rural society, the new Marriage Law led to an increase in hypergamic relationships with many women seeking to marry — and divorce in order to remarry  —  into more advantageous and, ideally, urban circumstances (Diamant, 2000). Rural male cadre also engaged in hypergamy, seeking to divorce peasant wives in order to marry new urban partners. Rather than disappearing, transactional practices such as the payment of brideprice involved an escalation of costs (Parrish and Whyte, 1978; Siu 1993), with rural males and older women losing out in relation to younger women in the increasingly expensive marriage market (Johnson, 1985: 124-6). Within urban areas, working classes “often entered into friendship, marriage and sexual relations” driven by status and economic concerns, urban or rural residence, sexual desire, and the pursuit of fun and leisure” (Diamant, 2000: 271, 224; Honig, 167-8). Working-class women commonly sought partners on the basis of ‘material possessions, money, and status’, and frequently changed partners in the pursuit of advancement (Women’s Federation, 1955: 17, Diamant, 2000: 187, 80).  Amongst female cadre mate-choice favoured higher status cadre for their high income, and many low-level male cadres found it difficult to find marriage partners (Women’s Federation, 1959: 32, Diamant, 2000:191). Conversely, women married to elite urban men feared the potential for divorce under the new marriage law for they often lacked independent means of support (Diamant, 2000: 56).

Zhang Yimou’s Under the Hawthorn Tree idealizes pre-Reform Era relationship

2.3.2 These examples of hypergamic practice and leisure-sex suggest that political-class status was an object of relational exchange because of the advantages it brought.  Moreover, trading of scarce resources for sexual services was common amongst cadre and rural and urban women during the 1950-60s (Pan, 1996; Yang and Cao, 2016; Diamant, 2000; Honig, 2003: 162, 166). Pan (1996) described a culture of bargaining between ‘those who use their power and authority to obtain sex (yiquan moxing)’ and those who use sex to obtain privileges of the powerful (yixing moquan). Cadres engaged in sexual abuse of female factory workers (Lee, 2007: 148-9), and sexual abuse of young female and male rusticates (women sent to work in rural areas) was frequent (Wu, 2014: 163; Honig, 2003:161-164; Deng, 1992; Shi, 1996).

2.3.3 Transactional sexual relations in the reform era evince both transformations and continuities with those of the Maoist era, despite a view common to studies of prostitution and sexuality that there has been transition from the abolition to the proliferation of prostitution, from chaste socialist relations to liberal sexual practices, and from egalitarian gender relations to sexualised gender inequality. Some of the continuities in sexual relations can be seen in the reform era tensions between harmonization and market opening. In line with the centrality of filial relations to a harmonious society (described above), official discourse encourages heteronormative relations which subsume love and sexuality within the private sphere of stable family life ( Zavoretti, 2016a: 1200; Yan, 216-7). This discourse is built on the common sense views prevalent amongst many youths who view sex as  “a reproductive function” (Jeffreys, 2015, 46; Liu, M. 2012). Accordingly, for many, sexual activity is limited to the context of serious adult relationships or as a precursor to marriage, and pre-marital sexual activity prior is still regarded as immoral and irresponsible (Jeffreys, 2015: op cit; Evans, 1997:83; Fang, 2013; Zavoretti, 2016b).

2.3.4 However, policies of reform era market opening, social reproduction and a degree of tolerance for cultural representations of sexuality have reportedly also encouraged a ‘sexual revolution’  amongst urban residents, and youth in particular (Zhang, E. 2011). For many youth, sex is “a form of play” or “a shortcut towards financial security” (Jeffreys, 2015:48, Pan, S. 2009).

Ren Hang’s photographic art attests to the culture of play amongst segments of urban youth

2.3.5 The reform era has seen sex services become available at a wide range of facilities while “sellers and buyers of sex come from all sectors of society” (Pan, 2009; David and Friedman, 2014; Jeffreys, 2015Jeffreys, 2012). The opening towards transacted sex is coterminous with the continuing policy of opening to the market. This correspondence is most evident in special economic zones like the Yunnan-Vietnam border, where a discourse of “gaohuo jingli” (to make alive, banging) prevails, incorporating the ideals of economic and sexual openness (Zhang, 2012:99). Zhang argues, following Aiwa Ong, that such liminal spaces represent (neoliberal) states of exception to the prevailing norms wherein the state pathologizes and criminalizes prostitution as one aspect of deviancy resulting from market opening (Bassi, 2016; Jeffreys, 2015). However, many local authorities and economies benefit from the sex industry in the entertainment, tourism and related sectors (Zheng, 2011). Police, like other officials, also view prostitution as a source of income (Jeffreys, 2006; Liu, 2007), and have only limited ability to identify and restrict transacted sex in any case, in part because much of it falls into the grey area between hospitality services and paid for sex (Jeffreys, 2004). Consequently, “local governments without exception turn a blind eye and only respond reluctantly to occasional pressure from Beijing to crack down on pornography and prostitution” (Chin and Finckeneaur, 2012: 217; see also, Zhang, 2006; Jeffreys, 2006). The pattern that Barbara Hershatter (1997: 390) noted towards the end of the 1990s — oscillating between ’rounds of cleanup campaigns’ and periods of benign neglect and local local payoffs’ — has continued into the present. Thus, rather than seeing a criminalising normality versus a regulating exceptionality, it might be more useful to regard these countervailing tendencies as aspects of nationally pervasive norms and governance whose faultlines lie between local and national government.


2.3.6 The  proliferation of transacted sexual relations works across the continuum of relationships including sex work, marriage, and other forms of sexualised labour. He Qinglian (2005) categorized sexual relations in monochromatic shades, ranging from ‘prostitution’ (the “black” sphere) to romantic/marriage relationships (the “white” sphere). In between these, she places “grey women” (huise nuxing) involved in sexualised affective work and physical-sex work including escorts(bao po), second wives (er nai), and some ‘xiaojie’and KTV hostesses.

Picture 180
Lee Chen Dao paintings evoke the sometimes playful lifeworld of hostesses

2.3.7 He’s categorisation relies on a dichotomy between commodified (improper) and non-commodified (proper) sexual relations.  Contra He’s moralising categorisation, however, marriage is, arguably, more of a ‘grey’ than a ‘white’ area as it has historically involved forms of transaction including major marriage and brideprice, wife-sale, polyandry and polygamy, and in-between practices (see xxx). Major marriage typically requires a great investment of economic and other forms of capital, and non-normative marriage practices such as wife-purchase have reappeared in the period since the financial crash (2008). The grey area also includes the beauty industry and retail, clerical and service jobs involving the commodification of young women’s sexuality within the
ascendancy of the ‘sexual economy’ (Osburg, 2013:144; Gaetano, 2008: 635; Zurndorfer, 2016). With youth culture and commerce increasingly focused on displays of youthful sexiness (Jeffreys, 2015: 46; Latham, 2007; Liu, F. 2011; Moore, 2005; Sima and Pugsley, 2010), sexual attractiveness has been generally deemed necessary in women’s employment (Jieyu, 2017). Consequently, women’s work in general might be regarded as a ‘grey’ area; as  TianTian Zheng remarked, “the line between what defines a sex worker and what is necessary to maintain employment is not substantial” (Zheng, 2009: 22).

2.3.7 Attitudes to self-commodification demonstrate some continuity across the field of sexual relations. Just as sex workers regard their bodies and other attributes as assets to be capitalized on, so do participants in the broader field of relationships. As one postgraduate told Wang and Nehring (2014), “career is men’s biggest capital, while youth and beauty are the most important capital for women”. This view echoes those of an er nai who argued, “[i]n essence, men using their power and connections and women using their youth and beauty are the same. Both are a rational utilization of one’s personal resources” (Osburg, 2013).  Common acceptance of the commodification of sexual relations reflects the pragmatic need for sufficient economic and social capital as prerequisites for relationships and filiality in the context of socio-economic inequality. Such beliefs inform the dating strategies of Beijing university graduates, where “unspoken rules of dating include a desire for a wealthy partner” (Wang and Nehring (2014:585).  As noted above, the ability to provide urban housing is a key criterion for mate-choice. A typical situation involved a government company employee who tried to set up a friend with a suitable man who did not own his own home. Her friend said, “What’s the point? Without an apartment, love isn’t possible” (NYT, 2012).

2.3.8 The shades of grey sexual relations are highly stratified. Many “jienu” sex workers providing services for poorer clients including migrant workers are likely to be rural migrants themselves, sometimes older and therefore less sexually attractive than young women, and unable to perform the cultural aspects of attractive appearance through fashionable dress, hairstyling, make-up, plastic surgery and fitness routines (Jeffreys, 2015; Zheng, 2009; Tsang, 2017). Their lack of economic and bodily capital present barriers to work in better-paid realms of sex work, just as their lack of socio-cultural capital limits their ability to develop connections with higher status clients.

Rural migrant housing in Beijing 2017: underground rooms and homelessness after urban village demolition

2.3.9 The limits of low-level sex work arguably corresponds to that of lower level rural-rural marriages. Rural migrants experience status-inequality, sometimes being viewed as júwàirén [“ignorant “outsiders”] (Zhang, 2001). The lack of urban residency, exclusion from urban property accumulation (Zhan, 2015), and their low suzhi (quality) in the regard of urban residents means most — and particularly males without higher education  — are regarded by urban residents as undesirable partners for marriage (Wang and Nehring, 2014). Female rural migrants themselves seek to avoid rural-rural marriages (Gaetano, 2008). Instead, migrant women working in urban centres, like migrant sex workers, seek to utilise their bodily, cultural and economic capital, in order to find a marriage partner with the most advantageous conditions possible. Arianne Gaetano (2008: 637) summarises their criteria for marriage partners as including

the man’s household economic and social situation, such as hukou, property, and assets; occupation; whether his parents were still living and what sort of care they might require of a daughter-in-law; and how many of his siblings are unmarried and hence would require financial support.

2.3.10 Such criteria helped determine whether the potential spouse would be able to fulfil his cao (‘being responsible and dependable’). Rural men without urban migration experience were deemed ineligible, those with marketable skills and savings were esteemed, and men with urban status were deemed highly desirable but generally unobtainable (Gaetano, op cit). As Pun Ngai (2012: 180)  observes, many female migrant workers spend between x-5 years working in urban factories before returning to their rural areas because they have been unable to find a marriage partner in the city.

2.3.11 Migrant workers of both sexes increasingly self-represent as diaosi [“losers”] (Sum, 2017), sharing underprivileged backgrounds, poor wages, low consumption, and low social status (Sum, 2017: 303). Male diaosi depreciate themselves as being  “poor, short and ugly” in contrast to the ‘wealthy, tall and handsome’ men likely to date wealthy, fair-skinned and pretty (bafumei) girls. Sum’s (2017) neo-Gramscian analysis shows that their self-representation involves a “good sense” understanding of their abject exclusion from the sphere of middle-class urban social reproduction and sexual relations: being ‘a loser’ is in part an ironic critique of the common inequality of their doomed aspirations.

2.3.12 In the overlapping sphere of low-level rural-urban hypergamy and sex work, participants hope to leap-frog over their subordinate position either through the independence granted by money or through the wealth and status of higher-level partners (see Tsang, Lowe, and Scambler, 2017). Low-level sex workers in Dongguan prefer sex work to dead-end factory or service work, and return to rural communities (Tsang, Lowe, and Scambler, 2017:x). These young sex workers make great use of their bodily and sexual capital, enacting filiality by taking on the role of breadwinner for rural families, establishing themselves in urban centres with economic independence, and using their wealth to ally or overcome the status subordination of rural migrants in urban cities. For an exceptional minority, sex work may even lead to access to a hukou, or an er nai position with a wealthy client.

2.3.13 In contrast to low-level sex workers, mid-and-high-level sex workers are able to draw on greater economic and cultural resources (Tsang, 2017a; Choi and Holroyd, 2007).  Employing these resources enables the pursuit of higher levels of reward, economic independence and personal autonomy (Zheng, 2009) and, for some, long-term intimate relationships with elite clients (Tsang, 2017:452-3). The character of such commodified relationships are not exploitative but rather include friendships, mutual trust, and romance (Tsang, 2017: 452-3). This level of sex work corresponds to the mid-high levels of rural to urban marriages, wherein undergraduate and graduate migrants generally have the advantage over less-educated rural women.5

2.3.14 Urban resident undergraduates and graduates generally have the highest value in commodified sexual relations (Osburg, 2013; Wang and Nehring, 2014). Relations with them are regarded as bestowing status because of their high suzhi embodied in economic and cultural capital, including education, lifestyle, and civil dispositions (Ren, 2013: 34-44; Xiao, 2010; Zhang, 2010: 19, in Sum, 2017: 300). For such women, possession of sufficient parity of participation in urban society grants them the freedom of appearing to make mate-choices on the basis of romance. However, such choices are based on the knowledge that they represent a high socio-economic value to aspiring partners. This relative and commodified freedom reflects that of the high-end hostesses in Tsang’s (2017) study, who chose a period of sex work with elite clients because their valuable levels of cultural, social, bodily and economic capital enabled them to do so and to have their work represented as esteemable.

Multi-dimensional war of position and passive revolution in labour, sex and filiality.

3.1 How might such intersecting contests inform an understanding of the underlying paradigms that structure inequality? For Zheng, an underlying paradigm of patriarchy and neo-Confucian filiality is supported by exploitative social structures including families, the state, patriarchy, and the market economy.  Zheng argues that hostesses mis-recognised their situation as advantageous when their work, and their support of their families actually “reproduce[s] the structure that victimizes them.” In this view, hostesses are recognised as rightly arguing that the income derived from sex work increases their capacity for enacting filial responsibilities and for self development, increases their rural status through these enhanced capacities, empowering them in relation to parents and other relations, and allows them to challenge their subordinate status in urban environments where, for example, urban boyfriends respect the character they demonstrate in undertaking migrant sex work. However, Zheng (2009) argues that sex hostesses  have in fact further entrenched the objectification of women, and the state and family’s of exploitation of their youthful attractiveness and filiality. In this view, sex worker’s belief in their work’s subversion of gender and rural-urban hierarchies fails to disrupt their unconscious internalization of patriarchal dispositions; their view that it does is a form of symbolic misrecognition that embeds them further in patriarchal filiality and exploitation, reproducing patriarchal state hegemony (Zheng, 2009: e133).

3.2 Zheng’s analysis points to the intersecting dimensions of party-state hegemony that I have categorised in terms of transactional sexual relations, filiality and the market economy. However, rather than viewing sex workers as exemplifying ‘bad sense’ in relation to dominant norms and structures that require transformative rupture, it might be useful to note the ways that hegemony is contested by a range of actors in multiple and historically specific fields and dimensions.

3.3 Viewing filiality as a component of a timeless over-determining patriarchy that allows for continuing exploitation of daughters by families, I would argue, reduces it to its oppressive character, missing the reciprocity and tempered altruism involved in the good sense of its contemporary relational reinvention. Adherence to relational filiality cannot be reduced to gendered  ‘false consciousness’ for family members may be critical of welfare inadequacies and patriarchal relations whilst still pursuing filial responsibilities. While such countervailing tendencies might be considered in Gramscian terms of ‘contradictory consciousness’ (Sum, 2017), they might also be regarded as evidencing a kind of reflexive consciousness in which subjects renegotiate their normative positions in light of party-state power and their multidimensional stratification.

3.4 Transactional sex and rural-to-urban hypergamy strategies increase young women’s income or access to resources and sometimes empower their ability to fulfill filial responsibilities (Zhang, 2012:100).  Zheng (2009: 152) suggested that migrant sex workers in Dalian typically spent “about half of what they earned” to support their families, and notes their avowed pride in their ability to support their parents and other family members. These are shifts from vertical authoritative to horizontal reciprocal relations of care with parents and, correspondingly, towards improved perceptions of the value of daughters.  As Zheng (2009:x) recounts, for example, mothers relinquished authoritative control, came to advocate the single independence of their daughters as preferable to the trap of rural marriage, and developed tolerance of non-traditional expressions of gender. These strategies may yield access to the benefits of urban citizenship that is not possible within the realm of so-called ‘white’ relations for women from rural and rural-migrant backgrounds. That the losers in these wars of position may include poor rural village and rural-migrant young men who are neglected as ‘bare sticks’ points to legacies of intersectional inequality in the late imperial, republican and Maoist eras that cannot be reduced to a male-dominant form of over-determining patriarchy.

Honda factory protesters
Protestors at the Honda factory strike,  Zhongshan                              photo by Arianna Lindquist, New York Times,  June 10, 2010

3.5 In terms of the hegemony of the market economy, the so-called ‘black-grey’ spectrum of sexual relations points to the excessive inequity of the commodification common to all forms of social reproduction, including sexual relations, and in which many are intersectionally excluded from the benefits of sufficient citizenship. It is subordination as rural residents and migrant workers that those involved in commodified sex and industrial protest resist (see Tsang, 2017b; So, 2014), not the comparatively advantageous conditions of a sex work economy, including advantages of employing attractiveness towards hypergamic ends.  There is here a form of gender protest refusing relations on subordinate terms in favour of independence or recognition of greater value. Reform era commodification including, for example, mid-to-high end sex work and brideprice paid to the bride (rather than her parents) has involved a partial shift away from the realms of exploitation for male profit towards women’s use of their capital for their own projects.

3.6 The engagement of rural migrant women across the spectrum of sexual relations involves contestation of social, economic and, ultimately, political subordination. These projects contest subordination in multiple dimensions, seeking economic redistribution, and refusing misrepresentation. This is the case, for example, of young male and female sex workers refusing rural and urban subordination. Female migrants seek to overcome the subordination of women’s rural lives.6 Both male and female migrants have often first worked in menial service and construction jobs in cities, and the move to sex work represents a refusal of the shameful ‘dead-end paths’ of urban labour regimes that incorporate unbearably long hours with low pay (Kong, 2012; see also Zheng, 2009:x; Jeffreys, 2015: 99), and the near-impossibility of achieving the benefits and agency of urban citizenship (particularly when non-graduates). In the case of the female sex workers of Dalian, the ability to transcend that abject state was a source of pride, and the subject of envy and admiration among male peers and female relatives stuck in more subordinate socio-economic positions, even as such views were conterminous with moral condemnation (Zheng, 2009; x, x).

3.7 The frequency of such refusals of subordination in low-end work and abject (rural-rural) major marriage correspond to workers’ refusals of maldistribution misrecognition and misrepresentation. Sex work and mass incidents might both be considered forms of anti-hegemonic resistance: strikes and protests are “unharmonious” while sex work is represented as being “improper”. As Zheng (2009: x,x) observes, migrant sex workers contest moralizing views of sex work as improper, arguing that all sexual relations are commodified.  Sex workers’ refusal of mainstream society’s right to denigrate their work as immoral involves the argument that moralists should first reflect on the criteria for their own “white” relations: only if these were actually free of the inequitable commodification that unfairly stratifies relational competition would it make sense to draw a line between “white” and darker shades of relationships. Arguably, like rural migrants seeking ‘hypergamic’ relations with urban residents rather than marriage to rural men, what sex workers such as those interviewed by Zheng (2009; 12, x) were refusing was not romantic attachment in itself, but relations made on a socially abject basis of low-paid jobs, poverty, and social subordination, and temporary relations made on the basis of insufficient price. Sex work is thus analogous to migrant workers’ “unharmonious” industrial protest in its temporary refusal of participation in a structurally inequitable field  — the field of “proper sexual relations” — which, like the field of industrial relations, has also been inequitably stratified by the hekou-suzhe system (Sum, 2017).

3.8 To what degree do these forms of resistance bear an affirmative or transformative relationship to party-state hegemonic formations in the intersecting fields of sexual relations, filiality and the market economy? The multidimensional contests of those involved in commodified sexual relations represent a bottom-up social equality war-of-position, coterminous with the state’s top-down passive revolution involving improved social rights, economic growth and the freedoms of consumer society, improved industrial relations and the accommodation between market opening and filiality.

3.9 Anti-hegemonic resistance of intersectionally-subordinate subjects has led to a series of consent-focussed accommodations on the part of the party-state, along with a reiteration of coercive repression. Accommodations have included .local and widespread regulation and tolerance of sex work, measures of mediation and containment in industrial relations, amelioration of rural inequality and some extension of universalist welfare.  Coercive measures have included the (sporadic) criminalisation and pathologising of “prostitution”, crushing of independent industrial protest, enforcement of the hekou-suzhi system, and restrictive (and punitive) regulation of social and mainstream media. Where the accommodations work to limit the range and intensity of social instability and protest, coercive measures serve to limit possible forms of resistance and protest.

3.10 In between resistance and passive re-incorporation lies changing and uneven forms of intersectional subjectivity. Sexuality is marked by increased recognition of the commodification of the wider range of relations, filial piety has been transformed into relational filiality and tempered altruism, and worker protests are marked by a growing class-and-gendered consciousness that vascilates between legal accommodations and extra legal forms of protest, as well as between cellular economic issues and wider forms of class, gendered and collective awareness.


  1. @para 1.4  A “class in itself” exists as a historical reality. A “class for itself” has acquired consciousness of its identity and possesses a capacity to act on this basis (Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy; Bendix and Lipset, 1967).
  2. @para 1.1 Note Ruth Lister’s (2007) explanation.
  3. @ para 2.1.5 As discussed below, this perspective re-illuminates histories of the transformation of transactional sexual relations in the Maoist era: alongside the elimination of brothel-based prostitution there continued the extraction of (sexual) surplus value unmediated by commodification.
  4. @para 2.2.4 Welfare entitlements vary from province to province, with some like Gansu providing none at all.
  5. @para 2.3.13 Wang and Nehring note, for example, that more than 40% of Beijing marriages involve a male urban resident and female waidiren (rural migrant).
  6. @para 3.6 Zheng (2009)  observed that the desperation of such lives had led to high levels of rural female suicide (fieldwork, 1999-2004; See also, Wu, 2011). Sommers (2015:7) similarly notes that suicide rates were historically particularly high among rural young women (see also, Wolf, 1975:112).


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Harrell, Stevan (eds). Transforming patriarchy: Chinese families in the twenty-first century, Seattle and London: University of Washington Press.

Zelizer, V. (2005), The Purchase of Intimacy. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
Zhang, C. (2000). A report on research of prostitution. Law and Life, 2000(11), 20-21.

Zhan, Y. (2015), ‘‘My life is elsewhere’’: social exclusion and rural migrants’ consumption of homeownership in contemporary China”, Dialect Anthropol, 39, 405-422.

Zhang, E. (2011) ‘China’s sexual revolution’, in A. Kleinman, Y. Yan, J. Jing, S. Lee, E. Zhang, T. Pan, F. Wu and J. Guo (eds), Deep China: The Moral Life of the Person, Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press, pp. 106–51.

Zhang, F. (2014), China’s Urbanization and the World Economy. Aldershot: Edward Elgar.

Zhang, H. (2006), Female sex sellers and public policy in the People’s Republic of China. In E. Jeffreys (ed.) Sex and Sexuality in China. New York: Routledge.

Zhang J. (2012), “A trafficking ‘not-spot’ in a China–Vietnam border town”, in Ford, M., Lyons, L.  and van Schendel, W., Labour Migration and Human Trafficking in Southeast Asia: Critical Perspectives. Taylor and Francis.

Zhang, L. (2001), Strangers in the city: Reconfigurations of space, power and social networks within China’s floating population. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press.

Zhang, L. (2010). In search of paradise: Middle-class living in a Chinese Metropolis. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Zhang, L. (2009), ‘Domestic violence network in China: Translating the transnational concept of violence against women into local action’, Women’s Studies International Forum, 32, 227-239.

Zhang, D. and Yue, J. (1998), Report on Love and Sex among China’s Sent-Down Youth, Beijing, Guangming ribao chubanshe.

Zheng T. (2009), Red Lights: The Lives of Sex Workers in Postsocialist China. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Zheng, T. (2009a) Ethnographies of Prostitution in Contemporary China, New York and Houndsmills, Palgrave Macmillan.

Zheng, T. (2011), “Sex work and the state in contemporary China”, in  Dewey, S. and Kelly, D. (eds.), Policing Pleasure: Sex Work, Policy and the State in Global Perspective, New York, New York University Press
Zhao, J. (2001) . Report on investigation of prostitution in China. Chinese Youth Research, 2001(1), 13-20.
Zhu, X (2001), A review of research on prostitution after the economic reform. Research on Police, 2001(4), 92-96.
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Zurndorfer, H. (2016) ‘Men, Women, Money and Morality: The Development of China’s Sexual Economy’, Feminist Economics, 22:2, 1-23.

Dr Matt Merefield’s Resume

Work history (English; see Chinese below)

  1. Lecturer (f/t), Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, English language and culture classes for undergraduates. This teaching is current.
  2. Lecturer (p/t) Tianjin Senior University, English language and culture classes for senior citizens. This teaching is current and ongoing.
  3. Lecturer (p/t), University of Bradford, Sociology and Criminology, Faculty of Social Sciences Module Leader, Global Society and Local Experience; (grade 8/9; September 2016-2017); Undergraduate Dissertations Supervisor, undergraduate, sociology, and criminology (September 2016-June 2017).
  4. Research Associate (f/t), University of Bradford, Centre for Applied Social Science Research, Faculty of Social Science April 2015 – October 2016 (grade 7, ft.).
  5. Research and Inspections Officer (f/t), Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services, Western Australia (Grade 6.4; permanent) 2010-2015.
  6. Research Associate, (f/t), Research Information Unit, Immigration Advisory Service, London, 2009-10。
  7. Honorary Research Fellow, City University, London, 2009-11.
  8. Research Assistant (f/t), Department of Politics and International Studies, Warwick University, 2007-8.
  9. Research Assistant (f/t), Department of Politics, Bristol University. (f/t), 2006-7.
  10. Lecturer (f/t equivalent), Nottingham Trent University, Media Studies, Sociology, Human Geography. Lead lecturer: ‘Postcolonial Cinema’, 2005-6. Module leader: ‘Global Migration and Minorities’; ‘‘Race’, in Contemporary Britain’, 2005-6. Contributing lecturer: People and Places’; ‘Introductory Sociology’; ‘Nation and Narration’, ‘Post-modern Desire’, 2004-6.

Publications (academic)

  • ‘The exceptional inclusion of ‘savages’ and ‘barbarians’: the colonial liberal biopolitics of mobility and development’ in Mark Duffield and Vernon Hewitt, (eds.) Colonial Developments: the Past in the Present, James Curry, August 2009.
  • ‘How was Howard’s War Possible? Winning the War of Position over Iraq’, Australian Journal of International Relations, 2009, with Matt McDonald (40%).
  • ‘Gendered Migrations: Towards gender-sensitive policies in the UK’, Institute of Public Policy Research Asylum and Migration Working Paper No. 6, IPPR, 2005, with Eleonore Kofman and Parvati Raghuram (25%).

Current academic working papers/book chapters

  • ‘‘Trafploitation’ and counter-narratives: moral narcissism and failures of transculturation in Western anti-trafficking discourse,’ intended for submission to the Journal of Asian Cultural Studies.
  • ‘A Tale of conflicting fields: China’s relational filiality, socio-economic inequality, and the commodification of sexuality, intended for submission to the Journal of Critical Asian Studies.
  • ‘The neo-protectionist misrecognition of Aboriginality and Modern Slavery in Western Australia’, intended for submission to The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology.
  • ‘Critical justice theory and complex equality: theorizing the scope for redressing socio-penal disadvantages’, intended for submission to the Punishment and Society.

Samples of my academic writing are accessible at:


Samples of my global sociology lectures and blogs on global and trans-national mobility and immobility are available at https://globalimobility101.com/

Academic qualifications and awards                                 

PhD Historical Sociology, Nottingham Trent University (2006); British migration policy within colonization and globalization, 17th to 20th Centuries.

  • M.A.Cultural Studies (Distinction), University of Queensland (2001).
  • Bachelor of Arts (1st). English Literature/Cultural Studies, University of Tasmania (1999).
  • British Academy Small Research Grant, ‘UK-Uganda deportation monitoring network’, 2009-11, with Dr Liza Schuster (City University);
  • UK Vice-Chancellor’s Overseas Research Scheme Award (2002-3);
  • Nottingham Trent Postgraduate Award (2004);
  • Australian Postgraduate Award (2001).

Knowledge and expertise

  • Sociology of globalization, migration, multiculturalism, ‘race’ relations; social inclusion; historical sociology of colonization and migration; social/criminal justice.
  • Refugee, asylum politics, law and policy including detention, deportation, monitoring.
  • Human Trafficking and people smuggling, Neo-abolitionism, ‘Modern Slavery’.
  • Human rights law and policy; equality (including socio-economic, migrant, labour & indigenous) rights and policy.
  • Critical theory, Marxism, classical liberalism, neoliberalism; post-colonial theory; biopolitics; intersectionality (with a focus on class, gender, ‘race’, disability).

Other languages

  • Mandarin (elementary, spoken [ongoing student])
  • Italian (elementary, spoken and written)

Matt Merefield 迈特 麦尔福尔德博士简历

Mobile: 135-161-324-39   e-mail: mattlumerefield@gmail.com



诺丁汉特伦特大学(英国) 2006

  • 历史社会学博士;英国在十七到二十世纪殖民化和全球化过程中的移民政策


昆士兰大学(澳大利亚) 2001

  • 文化研究硕士


塔斯马尼亚大学(澳大利亚) 1999

  • 文学学士;英语文学/文化研究


1.天津老年大学          2017-目前

  • 讲师 (p/t);英语

2.塘沽英语阅读室     2017-目前


  • 指导老师 (p/t)

3.布拉德福德大学(英国)                     2016.9-2017.6

  • 讲师;社会科学系社会学、犯罪学;全球化和地方变革;本科论文指导教师,社会学和犯罪学

4.布拉德福德大学(英国)    2015.4-2016.10

  • 副研究员;应用社会科学学院社会科学研究中心

5.西澳政府监禁监察部,(澳大利亚)   2010-2015

  • 研究及检察官员

6.移民咨询服务中心(伦敦) 2009-2010

  • 副研究员;研究信息部

7.城市大学(伦敦)        2009-2011

  • 荣誉研究员

8.华威大学(英国)          2007-2008

  • 研究助理;政治与国际研究系

9.布里斯托尔大学(英国) 2006-2007

  • 研究助理;政治系

10.诺丁汉特伦特大学(英国)             2004-2006

  • 讲师;媒体研究、社会学、人文地理学;“后殖民电影”;“全球移民和少数族裔”;“当代英国的‘种族’”;“人与地区”;“社会学入门”;“民族叙事”、“后现代欲望”


  • ‘The exceptional inclusion of ‘savages’ and ‘barbarians’: the colonial liberal biopolitics of mobility and development’ in Mark Duffield and Vernon Hewitt, (eds.) Colonial Developments: the Past in the Present, James Curry, August 2009.
  • ‘How was Howard’s War Possible? Winning the War of Position over Iraq’, Australian Journal of International Relations, 2009, with Matt McDonald (40%).
  • ‘Gendered Migrations: Towards gender-sensitive policies in the UK’, Institute of Public Policy Research Asylum and Migration Working Paper No. 6, IPPR, 2005, with Eleonore Kofman and Parvati Raghuram (25%).


  • ‘‘Trafploitation’ and counter-narratives: moral narcissism and failures of transculturation in Western anti-trafficking discourse’, intended for submission to the Journal of Asian Cultural Studies
  • ‘A Tale of conflicting fields: China’s relational filiality, socio-economic inequality, and the commodification of sexuality, intended for submission to the Journal of Critical Asian Studies.
  • ‘The neo-protectionist misrecognition of Aboriginality and Modern Slavery in Western Australia’, intended for submission to The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology.
  • ‘Critical justice theory and complex equality: theorizing the scope for redressing socio-penal disadvantages’, intended for submission to the Punishment and Society.

Samples of my academic writing are accessible at:


Samples of my global sociology lectures and blogs on global and trans-national mobility and immobility are available at https://globalimobility101.com/


  • 社会全球化、移民、多元文化、种族关系;社会融合;殖民和移民的历史社会学;社会/刑事司法
  • 难民,政治庇护,包括拘留、驱逐出境、监管的法律和政策。
  • 贩卖人口和人口走私,新废奴主义,“现代奴役”
  • 人权法律和政策;平等(包括社会经济、移民、劳工、原住民)的权利和政策
  • 批判理论、马克思主义、古典自由主义、新自由主义;后殖民理论;生命政治;交叉性(侧重阶级,“种族”,残障者)。




DRAFT: Post-culturalism: redressing the neglect of redistribution in social science analysis of social-penal justice



1.1 This article contributes to recent critiques of the culturalist turn in sociology and criminology. I argue that the turn away from class-essentialism towards a focus on diversity-equality and discursive (postmodern, post-structuralist) theoretical approaches have not enabled sufficient critique of ongoing social injustice and inequality in British society and its criminal justice and penal systems.

1.2 The diversity-equality program of seeking individual equality by ending identity/cultural discrimination and celebrating diversity cannot work as long as it neglects two of the main fault lines of inequality: class and political economy. What is needed instead is an intersectional and trivalent approach that takes full heed of Nancy Fraser’s aphorism “no recognition without redistribution”.

Introduction: socio-penal protest and the limits of liberal reformism

2.1 It might be fair to say that we are experiencing a period of socio-political crisis and opportunity. The combined effects of three decades of neoliberalism, oligarchy and the recent austerity-regime have culminated in Brexit and the fragmentation of Conservative party politics while the heretofore unlikely ascendancy of the left-wing of the Labour party may result in the first socio-political sea-change since Thatcherism.

2.2 The current crisis is evident in the realms of socio-penal justice, wherein liberal and culturalist criminologists and sociologists have responded by reasserting the validity of the post-Woolfian balance between penal security-and-inclusion — which uncannily mirrors the “race-relations paradigm’s” balancing of nationalist exclusions (primarily targetting migrants on the basis of class and race) — and culturalist policies of diversity-integration. These approaches cannot help us get beyond what Pat Carlen (2012) describes as the conflicted punishment-rehabilitation model of social and penal justice.

2.3 Its worth, then, revisiting the 1990’s penal riots (and their long development from 1969 onwards), the Woolf report and recommendations and the subsequent project of liberal reform in order to demonstrate its convergence with the latter program of diversity-equality, and the inadequacy of both for the task of developing a model of social justice that might take us beyond the normalisation of ongoing socio-penal inequality and injustice that has provokes both socio-penal protest and its re-incorporation within the balance of liberal inclusion-and its despotic punishments.


Prison riot and passive revolution: 1969 to the present

3.1 The current phase of austere prison conditions and punitive over-incarceration has led to an escalating series of prison staff strikes and protests, and prisoner dissent and riots that echo the last historical wave of punitive prison austerity. That period of dissent saw 10 major disturbances between 1969 and 1983 (HO 1984). Further major protests and disturbances followed at Holloway, Gartree, Pankhurst and Albany in 1985, and frequent individual disturbances continued until the riots of 1990, culminated in the Strangeways riot in April 1990 (hereafter ‘Strangeways’).   The factors contributing to the riot included overcrowding, understaffing, inadequate staff training, poor regimes, conditions, and staff-prisoner relations, amid a ‘security and control agenda’ (Wolf and Tammin,1990; see also Sim, 1987). As the punitive conditions and lack of procedural justice for prisoners were widespread and longstanding, Strangeways was a riot that could have happened in many other British prisons at the time (Scraton, et al., 1991: ix; Eaton, 2011: chp2).

3.2 This period of prisons crisis was also one of prison staff dissent, with staff taking industrial action on 7 occasions in d 1975, 34 in 1976, 42 in 1978 and 114 in 1978 (Fitzgerald and Sims, 1980). Mike Fitzgerald and Joe Sim (1980:73-4) noted that while the dispute was over pay and conditions, it also involved a contest over prison authority and legitimacy. The bones of contention were the custodial or welfare role of prisons and the relative authority of the different professions working in prisons (welfare officers and education staff, and custodial prison staff).(76).   Fitzgerald and Sim argue that prison officers were seeking to maintain income levels that had been protected from austere incomes policy through a range of privileges ( overtime in particular). They were also seeking status and income parity with the police who had been granted higher pay, in a period when government was increasing finding and support for policing social disturbances. The government sought to impose incomes policy on prisons in line with other (non-policing) public services, to destroy the strategy of privileges, and to introduce labour flexibility through the use of auxiliary staff  (for example, administration). At the same time liberal academia experts in and government officials sought more staffing in prisoner training, treatment and welfare, and a change in the role of (at least some) prison officers from purely custodial to being partially welfare and treatment focussed.

3.3 In terms of a crisis of authority and legitimacy, it represented a contest between prison officers seeking to maintain their position as a hitherto class aristocracy and their authority as the controllers of a punitive custodial regime, liberals seeking a transformation of the prison system from custody to rehabilitation on the basis of shared liberal values, and government (of both parties) seeking to impose economic rationalism across the public services (Fitzgerald and Sim,1980).. .

3.4 Penal dissent in the current period has seen English and Welsh prison estates marked by multiple instances of rioting and other forms of dissent. The dissent reached a high point in 2016, with riots in HMP Lewes, Bedford, and Swaledale, while the Birmingham prison riot (in November 2016) was reportedly the worst since Strangeways (ref).  Although the riots garnered media and political attention, they represent just a small proportion of the total of ‘concerted indiscipline incidents’ in prisons, which more than doubled from 2013 to 2016 (Selous, 2016).[i]

3.5 To date, there has been no ethnographic research published on the recent wave of prison dissent. Media sources, however, indicate those involved in or witnesses to prison disturbances cite prison conditions as the cause of dissent. For example, a rooftop protest at HMP Manchester (formerly ‘Strangeways’) was directed against lengthy lockdowns and understaffing: prison staff concurred with the protester’s criticisms (Parveen, 2017).  Anger at excessive lockdowns caused by staff shortages was the reported motivation for the riot at HMP Bedford (Press Association, 2016). The disturbance at HMP Guys Marsh in March 2017 was reportedly a protest over poor prison conditions (Press Association, 2017a). A prisoner witness to the riot at Birmingham said ‘listen, if you treat people like dogs they behave like dogs’ and reported that ‘there’s not enough training for staff’ (Enoch, 2016). The build-up to the riot had reportedly involved ‘growing unrest over the fall in facilities to prisoners … and an increasing number of hours spent locked up due to staff shortages’ (Pryce, 2016). Another Birmingham prisoner reportedly stated that ‘[W]hen we were told this morning that we were not getting exercise everyone went mad. They have had enough. They cancel gym all the time, the showers are cold, the food is crap, the heating is never on and we never get our mail on time” (325.nostate.net, 2016).

3.6 The current dissent bears comparison with that of the previous period inasmuch as its prisoner protest and the criticism penal experts made of the ‘illiberal prison system’ has been matched by dissent amongst prison staff. Staff dissent involved large-scale walkouts and protests, and the Prisons Union had planned strikes before the High court granted an injunction against strike action in February 2017. Their concerns focused on the heightened risks of working with prisoners angered by the poor conditions caused, in large part, understaffing, and the correspondingly high suicide rates and drug abuse (Munzinger, 2016). The focus of dissent also includes low pay, inadequate training, and the lack of senior guidance caused by the exodus of experienced officers (Doward, 2016; POA, 2016). The staff protests differ from those of the 1970-80s, in as much as prison staff are no longer a class fraction seeking to maintain or further an advantageous position, but rather a profession fighting from a weak position following the economic rationalisation of the prisons department under Labour, Coalition and Conservative governments. The prison staff dissent also differs inasmuch as it no longer represents a fight for authority over the prison system within a punitive custodial ethos. Prison staff arguably accept Lord Woolf’s recommendations that prisons should maintain security and good order by being just, and that such ‘dynamic security’ involves relations of trust and consent between staff and prisoners (refs, Woolf and Tammin, 1990).

3.7 Both of these waves of prison-based protests occurred periods of wider social and criminal justice transformation and dissent.  Strangeways occurred at the end of a decade that witnessed ‘wholesale deindustrialisation, mass (especially youth) unemployment, [and] growing anti-immigrant feeling’ (Jefferson, in Hall et al, 2013).These changes contributed to widespread industrial disputes and strikes, including factory and postal workers in 1970-1; construction workers in 1972; miners and allies in 1972 and1974, female Asian factory workers throughout 1976-8, miners, factory workers and public service throughout 1978-9, steel workers  in 1980, NHS staff and allies in 1982, miners, shipyard and furniture makers  throughout 1984-5, and postal workers in 1988. They also contributed to frequent inner city rioting and protest including Southall, 1979, St Paul’s, Bristol, 1980; Brixton, Handsworth, Birmingham, Moss Side, Manchester, Toxteth, Liverpool, Chapeltown, Leeds, 1981, Broadwater Farm, Manchester students, 1985; and Hackney and Liverpool race riot in 1985.

3.8 These riots, protests and strikes all represent withdrawal of the compliance, obedience, consent and allegiance that those subject to power give to power holders. The prisoner riots indicate, at a minimum, that the rule of prison authorities is not regarded as legitimate. The strikes of prison staff indicate, again at a minimum, that the government’s management of prisons is not legitimate. The period’s wider public protests represented crisis of legitimacy for political and policing authorities amongst trade unionists, female environmentalists, students, black youth, , with, for example, the wave of industrial unrest leading up to the miner’s strike of 1974 preceding the fall of the Health government.  However, if the policing of working class and minority groups contributed the loss of legitimacy among those groups in the 1970s-1990s, it also contributed to the loss of legitimacy for the welfare state’s consensus politics, and the legitimate rise of a law-and-order society (Hall et al, 2013  [1987]; Sims, 1987), including its punitive criminal-justice regimes.


[i] An incident is recorded as “concerted indiscipline” if it involves two or more prisoners acting together to defy a lawful instruction or against the requirements of the regime of the establishment. This includes major disturbances, such as riots.

[ii] .  Rioting involving  British black, white and Asian youth continued  after the fall of the Thatcher government, including, for example, riots of 1991 in Cardiff, Oxford and Tyneside, riots in Oldham, Burnley, Bradford and Leeds in 2001; and in London and in Lozells in 2005

  1. bedford-prison-rioters-shouting-in-jail-gangways-videoThe Guardian, November 7, 2016. 





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This is a blog created by Afghan refugee Mehdi Shams to give insight into life as a refugee on Lesvos, Greece.

The Indigenous Resistance Writers

Amplifying space for all past, present and future generations of Indigenous Writers and Storytellers.

Reflections on Gender and Postcolonial Issues

the truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off--gloria steinem

settler colonial studies blog

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