Jenny Chan. 2023. Buy with 1-Click: Independent Contracting and Migrant Workers in China’s Last-Mile Parcel Delivery (The Asia-Pacific Journal)

Jenny Chan. 2023. “Buy with 1-Click: Independent Contracting and Migrant Workers in China’s Last-Mile Parcel Delivery.” The Asia-Pacific Journal 21(2): 1-18.

Abstract: This article analyzes labor informality in the Chinese platform economy. Drawing on participant observation at a parcel delivery station in Beijing, the author discusses how individual and family lives are impacted by the hectic world of logistics work, and indeed, how companies have increased cost competitiveness through driving exploitation into forms hidden within the household. Migrant family members frequently assist each

other by calling customers and wrapping parcels while their unpaid labor is subsidizing the company’s business operations. Although the spheres of production and social reproduction can sometimes be integrated in cities, they confront precarious work and unequal urban citizenship.

Keywords: Independent Contracting; Logistics and Delivery Services; Production and Social Reproduction; Informality and Precarity; Chinese Rural Migrant Workers

Jenny Chan is an associate professor of sociology at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and a vice president (2018–2023) of the International Sociological Association’s Research Committee on Labor Movements. She researches labor and state-society relations in China’s global transformation, with a focus on political economy, rural-urban migration, and informalization of workforce. She is the co-author, with Mark Selden and Pun Ngai, of Dying for an iPhone (Haymarket Books and Pluto Press, 2020), which has been translated into Korean (Narumbooks, 2021). With Chris Rhomberg and Nair Manjusha, she recently co-edited the special issue of Critical Sociology on ‘Precarization and Labor Resistance’ (2019).

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