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[liberationtech] CAMRI Seminar Oct 1: Jenny Chan - Dying for an iPhone: The Labour Struggle of China’s New Working Class

Christian Fuchs christian.fuchs at
Thu Sep 25 02:11:44 PDT 2014

Dying for an iPhone: The Labour Struggle of China’s New Working Class
Jenny Chan
CAMRI Research Seminar
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
University of Westminster
Harrow Campus, 14:00-16:00
Room A7.01

Attendance: register per e-mail to christian.fuchs at 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) 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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