Rachel Y. Guo (2019) More than just breadwinners: how Chinese male migrant workers’ family relationships shape their factory labour process, Community, Work & Family, DOI: 10.1080/13668803.2019.1700919

Labour scholars have carefully examined how being daughters, wives, and mothers influences women’s labour process. In contrast, labour studies on men have rarely considered their family involvement except for being the breadwinners. Based on an ethnographic study on rural migrant workers in a Chinese factory, this article presents more complex work-family mechanisms for male workers. First, the married male migrant workers expressed deep family commitment. Shouldering family responsibilities made them more labour conservative, not only because they prioritized having a stable income but also because they empathized with the family obligations of married managers. However, the same family value could also lead to labour resistance when it was disrespected by the management. Second, the parents and relatives of single young male migrant workers played crucial roles in directing them to factories and made it difficult for them to resist unpleasant working conditions or leave. And the anticipation of future marriage further shaped the young male migrant workers’ labour practices. This article contributes to labour studies by demonstrating the indispensability of family to the analysis of male workers’ labour practices. It also challenges the gender stereotypes of male breadwinner/female caregiver and presents working-class men as being deeply embedded in family lives.