Constructing hydropower : labor control in Chinese transnational hydroelectric projects in Ecuador
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This thesis explores an important question concerning Chinese transnational development projects in Ecuador: How have Chinese transnational capital and modernization projects in Ecuador effectively enforced workplace control? In order to answer the question, I have conducted ethnographic fieldwork in a large hydro-electric power plant a Chinese construction company is building in Ecuador. I focused my attention on employees’ labor process to examine the process by which labor control unfolds. Particularly, I delve into discourses and practices about divisions and differences and argue that they objectively structure Chinese and Ecuadorian employees’ labor process and thereby shape strategies for labor control. In this thesis, I shall explore the particularities of labor control that Chinese transnational construction company has set up in Ecuador to examine how it manages to achieve consent with workers. Borrowing from Michael Burawoy’s definition and analysis of labor process and labor control, I identified three categories, namely, professional ranking, nationality and gender as especially relevant in terms of structuring both the labor process and labor rights provisions at the camp. Applying this analytical framework, I show that the structured and structuring interactions between objective structural relations can ensure and sustain labor control on one hand, and Chinese and Ecuadorian employees’ subjective experiences with labor rights regimes and workplace control can reinforce such control, on the other hand. I argue that Chinese transnational development projects in Ecuador have developed unique practical logics which help to achieve labor control among Chinese and Ecuadorian employees whose subjectivities presuppose their labor process.