Studies on the Chinese platform economy illustrate the interaction between platforms and workers, especially the algorithm management and labour process practices in the industry. However, the role of the state is inadequately discussed although state-labour relations is a major scholarly interest in studies on Chinese industrial relations. Drawing on fieldwork starting from 2019 to 2022 in China online and offline using methods of ethnography and interviews, this paper documents that the role of the state transforms from supporting the growth of platforms to taking a protective approach for platform workers, arguing that the state’s protective action is a response to the workers’ augmenting action and the advocacy from a broad civil society on the labour rights in the platform economy. However, in leading the policy resolution, the state excludes workers’ primary demand and direct participation in labour relations, leaving the labour-platform relations unsettled.
Key words: platform employment; state-labour relations; collective action; civil society
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