Labour research under coercive authoritarianism: Comparative reflections on fieldwork challenges in China
Daniel Fuchs (University of Göttingen)
Patricia Fuk-Ying Tse (University of Warwick)
Xiaojun Feng (University of Oxford)
This article examines conditions for the conduct of qualitative research on labour and industrial relations in China since the shift to a coercive form of authoritarian governance in 2012. In comparing the experiences of three doctoral students from Europe, Hong Kong and mainland China respectively who conducted fieldwork in China between 2015 and 2017, the article argues that coercive authoritarianism has significantly increased the challenges of fieldwork, resulting in a need for inventive coping strategies. The study highlights a need to establish informal networks and reciprocal trust relationships, and points to the elevated importance of ethical considerations in fieldwork on labour and industrial relations in China.