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Dying for an iPhone

Dying for an iPhone

Apple, Foxconn and the Lives of China's Workers

by Jenny Chan, Mark Selden and Pun Ngai

Series: Wildcat

Based on undercover research, Foxconn and Apple's treatment of workers is revealed

Suicides, excessive overtime, hostility and violence on the factory floor in China. Drawing on vivid testimonies from rural migrant workers, student interns, managers and trade union staff, Dying for an iPhone is a devastating expose of two of the world's most powerful companies: Foxconn and Apple.

As the leading manufacturer of iPhones, iPads and Kindles, and employing one million workers in China alone, Taiwanese-invested Foxconn's drive to dominate global electronics manufacturing has aligned perfectly with China's goal of becoming the world leader in technology. This book reveals the human cost of that ambition and what our demands for the newest and best technology mean for workers.

Foxconn workers have repeatedly demonstrated their power to strike at key nodes of transnational production, challenge management and the Chinese state, and confront global tech behemoths. Dying for an iPhone allows us to assess the impact of global capitalism's deepening crisis on workers.

Jenny Chan is Assistant Professor of Sociology at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. She is also the Vice President of the International Sociological Association's Research Committee on Labour Movements. Her recent articles have been published widely in Current Sociology, Modern China, Rural China, and many other journals and edited volumes.

Mark Selden is Senior Research Associate in the East Asia Program at Cornell University. He is editor of the online Asia-Pacific Journal. His books include China in Revolution: The Yenan Way Revisited; The Political Economy of Chinese Development; and The Cambridge History of Communism.

Pun Ngai is Professor of Sociology at The University of Hong Kong. She is author of Made in China: Women Factory Workers in a Global Workplace and Migrant Labor in China.

'Takes us to the dark side of Apple'

- Le Monde Diplomatique - Books of the Month

'Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, has said that his mission, and that of the company, is 'to serve humanity'; Dying for an iPhone calls into question that aim and the ethics of our globalized economy as a whole.'

- Emily Kenway, Times Literary Supplement


- CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title: China 2022

Deeply researched, comprehensively annotated and fuelled by anger.

- Mike Cormack, South China Morning Post

An invaluable resource for anyone wishing to explore the abuses inherent in labour practices, both in China and in tech supply lines.

- Oliver Farry, Irish Times

'A deep dive into exploitation and labour struggle in the world of high-tech electronics manufacturing in China during the past decade. Dying for an iPhone is an expose of the human suffering behind the brands. Everyone should read this'

- Hsiao-Hung Pai, Taiwanese journalist

'Dying for an iPhone is an absolutely necessary read for anyone seeking to understand the realities of modern-day capitalism. Contrary to the mythology of Silicon Valley, this carefully researched book explains why companies like Apple owe their success more to exploitation than to innovation'

- Wendy Liu, author of 'Abolish Silicon Valley: How to Liberate Technology from Capitalism'

'Dying for an iPhone takes readers deep inside the dark Satanic mills of Foxconn's industrial empire. Drawing on the words of the workers themselves, the book offers an invaluable portrait of the Chinese working class as it pumps blood (sometimes literally) into the productive heart of world capitalism'

- Ben Tarnoff, co-founder of Logic Magazine

'Critical, accessible, and rigorously researched, this book offers the most comprehensive analysis of Foxconn, the world's largest electronics factory: its bleak landscape, dire consequences, and inspiring efforts to change it for the better'

- Jack Linchuan Qiu, author of 'Goodbye iSlave: A Manifesto for Digital Abolition'

'A sobering investigation into the human, social and environmental costs of producing the devices we have come to rely on, a process in which both corporations and we, the consumers, are complicit'

- Nick Holdstock, author of 'Chasing the Chinese Dream'

'Dying for an iPhone demonstrates forensically how rights continue to be denied to Apple’s supply chain workers, from the right to organize to the right to spend more than ten minutes in the bathroom'

- Emily Kenway, Times Literary Supplement

'A riveting account of the lives of workers on the production'

- Labor Notes

‘Includes both personal interviews with Chinese workers and, zooming out, detailed statistics regarding the composition of Foxconn’s workforce, including everything from the gender of workers to their migration patterns in order to work at Foxconn. Useful to a class looking at global capitalism and its human toll on workers’

- Josh Young, Labor Studies Journal

List of Tables and Figures
1. A Suicide Survivor
2. Foxconn: The World’s Largest Electronics Manufacturer
3. Apple Meets Foxconn
4. Managing Foxconn
5. Voices of Student Interns
6. Fire and Brimstone
7. Wandering the City
8. Chasing Dreams
9. Confronting Environmental Crisis
10. Dead Man Walking
11. Strikes and Protests
12. Apple, Foxconn, and the Lives of China’s Workers
Appendix 1: Our Book Website
Appendix 2: Suicides and Attempted Suicides
at Foxconn in China, 2010
Appendix 3: Fieldwork in China
Appendix 4: Foxconn Facilities around the World
Selected Bibliography

Published by Pluto Press in Jun 2020
Paperback ISBN: 9780745341293
eBook ISBN: 9781786806277

150mm x 230mm

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