Foxconned Labour as the Dark Side of the Information Age: Working Conditions at Apple’s Contract Manufacturers in China.
AbstractApple is one of the most dominant and most admired computer companies in the world. But hidden behind the clean surface of Apple’s advanced gadgets lies a dirty world of work. This paper focuses on the dark side of the information age by looking at working conditions in the workshops of Apple’s contract manufacturers in China. For this purpose I suggest a systematic model of working conditions that can be used for assessing and comparing work in different industries. Departing from Karl Marx’s circuit of capital it identifies elements that shape working conditions throughout the capital accumulation process including productive forces, relations of production, the production process, products, and labour legislation. Subsequently I apply this model to the realm of electronics manufacturing. Based on research conducted by corporate watchdogs this paper provides detailed insights into the work and life reality of workers in Apple’s first tier supplier factories. An analysis of Apple’s response to labour rights allegations furthermore reveals three ideological patterns that rather obscure existing problems than offering viable solutions.
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