Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China is the story of China’s young rural women and the role they play in the development of Post-Mao Chinese society. Told through a series of interviews, analysis, and her own family history, Leslie Chang provides a complex portrayal of how China is moving towards equality among gender and social classes. The girls that Chang tells the stories of have “moved out” of their rural villages in order to find success. They are not seeking to break specific cultural norms that have traditionally kept them at the bottom of the social ladder. Rather, they are attempting to find their own path to personal success. This is the story of women who have accessed opportunities that propel and empower them, lifting them to a level that was previously impossible to reach. Ultimately, these women are learning how how to rise above a historical societal divide and take advantage of opportunities that are only truly available to those with the drive to succeed.
Beyond this analysis of the social ladder, Factory Girls also discusses what it means to leave home. This sense of home arises throughout the book in a variety of contexts, yet Chang ties together these separate threads by stating that the act of leaving home is the beginning of any family history.
In essence, this book provides a complex look into the life of a rural migrant worker. Chang is careful to let the factory girls speak for themselves and express their own opinions, while still managing to discuss her own family in the context of leaving home. Factory Girls is highly recommended to anyone interested in a personal look into modern-day China.
Look for Factory Girls in the Hampshire catalog here.