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The New Crowd of the Dispossessed: Factory Layoffs and the Informalization of the Urban Economy

Dorothy J Solinger

CSGR Working Paper No. 80/01

August 2001


This paper contrasts the old "crowd" of the revered urban proletariat from the days of Mao Zedong to the new "crowd" of laid-off workers. It utilizes concepts from the book, CROWDS AND POWER, by Elias Canetti, to characterize the opposed characteristics of the two crowds, and details the plight of the current crowd, as well as highlighting some continuities in the behavior and treatment of the working class by the regime. It also provides some statistics on unemployment, reemployment, benefits, and poverty among the old working class, and shows how its members have become informal workers.

Keywords: crowd, proletariat, laid-off workers, informalization

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