Gendering the dormitory labor system : production, reproduction, and migrant labor in South China

Ngai PUN*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

58 Citations (Scopus)


This article discusses the dormitory labor system, a specific Chinese labor system through which the lives of Chinese women migrant workers are shaped by the international division of labor. This dormitory labor system is a gendered form of labor use that underlies the boom of export-oriented industrial production in China, which has been further boosted by China's accession to the World Trade Organization. Combining work and residence under the dormitory labor system, production and daily reproduction of labor are reconfigured for the sake of global production, with foreign-invested or privately owned companies controlling almost all daily reproduction of labor. Drawing upon the findings of a 2003-4 case study of an electronics factory in South China, this paper analyzes the operation of the dormitory labor system, detailing both its role in increasing output and profits and its role in supporting workers' resistance to their employers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-258
Number of pages20
JournalFeminist Economics
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2007
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author would like to acknowledge that the fieldwork studies for this paper were supported by the Hong Kong Research Grant Council for the project, "Living with Global Capitalism: Labor Control and Resistance through the Dormitory Labor System in China" (2003–5).


  • China
  • Dormitory labor system
  • Global production
  • Migrant labor
  • Women workers


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