Mobile Revolution: How Migrant Workers in China Use Social Media to Defend Their Rights

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In recent years, the level of rights awareness and labor unrest has been heightened through the sharing of activism knowledge and experiences across different regions of China and of the world. This is made possible by the surge of technological developments in China that took place in the past two decades. With information communication technologies (ICTs), such as the Internet and the mobile phone, the younger generation of migrants is able to access information and learn about their own rights. Additionally, ICTs are helpful in organizing spontaneous protests and bringing about social change. Finally, technology usage allows for people with different backgrounds from various sectors of society to connect and work together in the fight for workers’ rights. Whether it is migrants collaborating with professionals to seek legal redress or nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) sharing organizing strategies, the crucial role technology plays in China’s contemporary labor activism scene is indisputable. In other words, ICTs have obliterated spatial-temporal boundaries so everyone can be unified and accessible in a way that has never been possible before. This study combines reports on the working conditions in the manufacturing sector, accounts of the technological development in China, literature on migrants’ daily usage of technology, and my own primary research to examine the effects of technology on China’s labor activism landscape.





Gao, Fei (2014). Mobile Revolution: How Migrant Workers in China Use Social Media to Defend Their Rights. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from

Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.