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Chen, Bin; Liu, Tao; Guo, Lin and Xie, Zhenglin (2020): The disembedded digital economy: Social protection for new economy employment in China. In: Social Policy & Administration, Vol. 54, No. 7: pp. 1246-1260

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This research focuses upon employment in the new economy, exploring labour protection and social protection in the digital age in China. Through an empirical survey conducted in three Chinese cities, social insurance and the labour rights of employees in the digital economic sector, such as gig employment, e-commerce, and various other forms of online employment, have been examined in-depth. This study reveals new regulatory loopholes in the digital labour market, which have substantially eroded the basis of social policy arrangements in China, "softening" participation in social insurance branches and compliance with labour regulations remarkably. Drawing upon the theoretical concepts of Polanyi on embeddedness and disembeddedness, we argue that the digital employment sector in China has been increasingly disembedded from social institutions and social control. The new configuration in the digital field of social policy requires novel conceptual models and institutional settings to cope with increasing social risks in virtual spaces.

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