Dying for an iPhone: The Labour Struggle of China’s New Working Class
CAMRI Research Seminar
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
University of Westminster
Harrow Campus, 14:00-16:00
Attendance: register per e-mail to [log in to unmask] until Monday,
Sep 30, 20:00
CAMRI Research Seminars – Autumn 2014 programme:
This sociological research analyzes the ways in which the integration of
the electronics manufacturing industry in global supply chains has
intensified labour conflicts and class antagonism. The Taiwanese
transnational corporation Foxconn Technology Group holds more than 50
percent of market share in global electronics manufacturing. Its 1.4
million employees in China far exceed its combined workforce in 28 other
countries that comprise its global empire.
I assess the conditions of a new generation of Chinese workers on the
basis of the intertwined policies and practices of Foxconn,
international brands (notably Apple), and the local government, as well
as the diverse forms of collective actions workers deploy to defend
their rights and interests. Within the tight delivery deadlines, some
Foxconn workers leveraged their power to disrupt production to demand
higher pay and better conditions. While all of these labor struggles
were short-lived and limited in scope to a single factory, protestors
exposed the injustice of “iSlavery,” garnering wide media attention and
civil society support.
Contradictions of state-labor-capital relations, however, remain sharp.
In the authoritarian regime, notwithstanding the resilience of the
Chinese state in the face of sustained popular unrest over the last two
decades, my ethnographic study highlights the unstable nature of
precarious labor in its hundreds of millions.
Jenny Chan was Chief Coordinator of SACOM (Students and Scholars Against
Corporate Misbehavior) http://sacom.hk/ between 2006 and 2009. Educated
at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the University of Hong Kong,
she went on to pursue her doctorate in sociology and labour studies as a
Reid Research Scholar at University of London. She was awarded the Great
Britain-China Educational Trust for dissertation writing (PhD diss. 2014).
On September 1 2014 she joined the University of Oxford as Departmental
Lecturer in Contemporary Chinese Studies, the School of
Interdisciplinary Area Studies. Her recent articles have appeared in
Current Sociology, Modern China, The Asia-Pacific Journal, The South
Atlantic Quarterly, Global Labour Journal, New Labor Forum, Labor Notes,
New Internationalist and New Technology, Work and Employment.
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