Sick workers as homines sacri
in Occupational health and social estrangement in China
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This chapter endeavors to establish sick Chinese workers as homines sacri with more fieldwork data. Its major argument is built upon the creation of a "zone of indistinction" which constitutes post-illness experience of occupationally sick workers in China. Not only does it effectively constitute sick workers as homines sacri susceptible to more violent forms of power, but also largely hides the problem of occupational disease from members of the public. Understandably, during the author's fieldwork, all sick workers reported that their illness had adversely affected their normal work lives. The chapter shows how the character of occupational disease patients is elided between the public and the private, and the productive and the unproductive. It also shows how the character of patients is elided between the culturally normative and deviant in situations where the biopower inherent in the specific set of social regulations and power relations has been exercised rather efficaciously.


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