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Labour reform is only one component of the larger process of reforming economy and society experienced by China during the late seventies, eighties and nineties, and is probably that part of this process where paradoxes emerge most clearly. This book suggests a two-level analysis: labour theory and consequent policy and law making emerging from a rapidly changing ideological environment from the beginning of Deng's Reform (the focus of the first part of the book) violently clash with the social and practical contradictions of policy implementation that emerge in the second part, together with an increasing 'resistance' by society vis a vis the state's overall policies as well as with an increasing - functional and tolerated - 'informalization' of labour practices. The book borrows historical analytical tools in order to shed light on how policymaking takes place in contemporary China: an experimental and self-fulfilling process where decisions are taken only long after being introduced into daily practice. It will be valuable to students of contemporary Chinese society and key to the understanding of 25 years of Chinese labour reform.