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Out to Work: Migration, Gender and the Changing Lives of Rural Women in Contemporary China

Author: Arianne Gaetano

University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, Hawaii, 2015, pp. 232

The author’s research spans the period 1998 -2012 to chart the impact of the economic reforms on rural women drawn into urban areas, often employed in domestic service or in hotels and office cleaning. She notes how this migration of cheap and flexible labour from the countryside has underpinned high levels of urban consumption, and both helped to empower the women migrants and to perpetuate gendered forms of difference and inequality.

See also: Chang, Leslie T., Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China, New York, Penguin Random House, 2009, pp. 448 (pb).

Chang, who was a journalist for the Wall Street Journal inside China, revealed the lives of migrant women working on assembly lines in an industrial city, primarily by focusing on the experiences of two young women for three years.  Her book which won awards in the USA, threw light on a previously unknown area, and illustrated the very mixed impact of the economic reforms and migration from the countryside on women’s opportunities.