Industrial District and the Multiplication of Labour: The Chinese Apparel Industry in Prato, Italy

Academic Article


  • AbstractSince the 1990s, the Chinese apparel industry in Prato has developed from a few stitching workshops into full‐fledged production networks. However, persistent disparity between the Chinese and Italian labor has triggered widespread social tensions. Drawing upon the recent literature of critical labor studies, this paper offers a different perspective to see the disparity in terms of the multiplication of labor across scales. The Chinese labor in Prato is made cheap and flexible by the proliferation of institutional and social borders, which were in turn inadvertently produced by Italian immigration policies, Chinese social norms, and local and regional economic conditions. In particular, the Chinese migrant workers have played an active role in producing social borders and in their own exploitation. Therefore, the labor polarization in Prato can hardly be solved by local institutional arrangements, and Italian trade unions have failed to organize the Chinese migrant labor in Prato.
  • Authors


    Publication Date

  • January 2015
  • Has Subject Area


  • Chinese migration
  • Italy
  • apparel
  • industrial district
  • post-operaismo
  • the multiplication of labor
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 158
  • End Page

  • 178
  • Volume

  • 47
  • Issue

  • 1