In contrast to the existing argument that the logic of capital has monetised almost every aspect of human relationships to the realm of exchange value, this article explores the existence of social values that are practised by the Chinese working-class youth as an alternative form of agency and every-day practices. Instead of understanding social values as a realm of value operating entirely outside the logic of exchange value, this article takes social values as the constitutive other of exchange value embodied in the neoliberalised form of capitalism but attempts to transgress it. It attempts to develop a micro-foundation of social values or social mechanism of values for understanding social protection and class solidarity. Employing in-depth interviews and ethnographic observations in vocational schools in China, at sites for the nurturing of working-class youth, we ask concretely what social values are, how they are perceived and exercised, and by whom. From students’ practices of care in schools, cooperation in the workplace, and solidarity in the community, we attempt to build a micro-foundation of social values that challenges and transgresses the logic of exchange value.
Biography of speaker
Prof. Ngai Pun
Professor of Sociology, The University of Hong Kong
Prof. Ngai Pun is Professor in Department of Sociology, University of Hong Kong. She obtained her Ph.D. from SOAS, University of London. She was honored as the winner of the C. Wright Mills Award for her first book Made in China: Women Factory Workers in a Global Workplace (2005). Her co-authored book, Dying for iPhone: Foxconn and the Lives of Chinese Workers (2020) has also been translated into German, French, Italian, Spanish, Polish and Chinese. She is the sole author of Migrant Labor in China: Post Socialist Transformation (2016, Polity Press), editor of seven book volumes in Chinese and English. She has published widely in leading international journals such as Cultural Anthropology, Dialectical Anthropology, Mobilities, Positions, Sociology, British Journal of Sociology of Education, Sociological Review, Work, Employment and Society, Modern China, China Quarterly and China Journal, etc.