Foxconn: The Disruption of iSlavery

in Asiascape: Digital Asia
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.

Help

 

Have Institutional Access?

Login with your institution. Any other coaching guidance?

Connect

This paper connects the scholarship of labour sociology with studies of information and communication technologies (icts). It contends that, despite the wonders of social progress associated with digital technologies, the emergence of the digital electronics manufacturing industry in Asia has led to serious regressions in society. Among the worst of such digital disruptions is the challenge of Foxconn, the world’s largest electronics manufacturer and one of the most notorious sweatshops in the history of industrial capitalism. Tragedies at Foxconn force us to reconsider industrialization and the role of icts so fundamentally that it requires us to revisit old regimes of slavery in order to fully understand these events. From a critical historical perspective, this paper examines disruptive moments in Foxconn while developing the idea of iSlavery and, in particular, manufacturing iSlaves, as a conceptual device to rethink the Foxconn suicides as emblematic of a disruptive and disrupted digital Asia.

Sections
References
  • AllainJean The Legal Understanding of Slavery: From the Historical to the Contemporary 2012a Oxford et al. Oxford University Press

    • Export Citation
  • AllainJean The Legal Understanding of Slavery: From the Historical to the Contemporary 2012b Kindle DX ed. Oxford et al. Oxford University Press

    • Export Citation
  • AndrijasevicRutvicaSacchettoDevi ‘China May Be Far Away but Foxconn is On Our Doorstep’ Open Democracy 2013 June 5 retrieved 14 June 2015 from https://www.opendemocracy.net/rutvica-andrijasevic-devi-sacchetto/china-may-be-far-away-but-foxconn-is-on-our-doorstep

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • bbc ‘Apple’s Broken Promises’ Panorama One 2014 December 18 retrieved 7 May 2015 from http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04vs348

  • bbc ‘France Telecom Suicides: Prosecutor Calls for Bullying Trial’ bbc News 2016 July 7 retrieved 14 August 2016 from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36733572

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • BurawoyMichael The Politics of Production: Factory Regimes Under Capitalism and Socialism 1985 London Verso

  • Caixin Net ‘Gaoxiao diaocha baogao zai jie Fushikang lanyong xueshenggong’ (Universities Investigation Report Shows Foxconn Abusing Student Workers 2011 May 21 Retrieved 16 August from http://china.caixin.com/2011-05-21/100261663_all.html

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ChanJenny ‘iSlave’ New Internationalist Magazine 2011 April 1 441 retrieved 6 May 2015 from https://newint.org/features/2011/04/01/islave-foxconn-suicides-workers/

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ChanJennyPunNgai ‘Suicide as Protest for the New Generation of Chinese Migrant Workers: Foxconn, Global Capital, and the State’ The Asia-Pacific Journal 2010 8 37

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ChenBrian X. ‘Factory: iPhone Girl Is for Real, Not Fired’ Wired Magazine 2008 August 27 retrieved 6 May 2015 from https://www.wired.com/2008/08/factory-iphone/

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Daily Mail ‘The Stark Reality of iPod’s Chinese Factories’ 2006 August 18 Retrieved 16 August 2016 from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-401234/The-stark-reality-iPods-Chinese-factories.html

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • DeanJason ‘The Forbidden City of Terry Guo’ The Wall Street Journal 2007 August 11 A1

  • DouEva ‘Apple Shifts Supply Chain Away from Foxconn to Pegatron’ The Wall Street Journal 2013 May 29 Retrieved 7 May 2015 from http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887323855804578511122734340726

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • DuJiabin ‘Fushikang de dianshang he mendian jun shibai’ (Foxconn Failed in Both E-Commerce and Material Stores) Global Entrepreneurs 2013 June 2 retrieved 8 May 2015 from http://big5.news.cn/gate/big5/news.xinhuanet.com/info/2013-06/02/c_132425383.htm

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • EdwardsJim ‘Apple’s iPhone Suppliers Use Children to Dig in Lethally Dangerous Mud Pits for Tin Ore, the BBC Alleges’ Business Insider 2014 December 18 Retrieved 6 May 2015 from http://www.businessinsider.com/secret-filming-inside-apple-factory-bbc-panorama-2014-12?international=true&r=US&IR=T#ixzz3ZKQcJB1H

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • EquianoOlaudah The Life of Olaudah Equiano 1999 New York Dover Publications

  • FoucaultMichel Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison 1977 New York Pantheon Books

  • France 24 ‘Ex-France Telecom CEO Probed Pver 35 Suicides’ 2012 July 6 Retrieved 8 May 2015 from http://www.france24.com/en/20120705-former-france-telecom-ceo-investigated-over-staff-suicides-lombard

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Free the Slaves ‘Pioneering New Frontiers in the Fight against Slavery – 2013 Annual Report’ 2014 Retrieved 8 November 2016 from https://www.freetheslaves.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/FTS2013FTSAnnualReportWeb3.pdf

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • FuchsChristian Digital Labour and Karl Marx 2014 New York Routledge

  • GoldsmithBelinda ‘Who is the Mystery iPhone Girl?’ Reuters 2008 August 28

  • GuLengbinPanPeiyao ‘Fushikang canju de shengsi lizheng’ (Life and Death Evidence for Foxconn Tragedies) Asia Weekly 2010 July 25 retrieved 7 May 2015 from https://www.yzzk.com/cfm/content_archive.cfm?id=1364966217834&docissue=2010-29

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HaPeter ‘Foxconn Suicides: Eh, They Are “Below Average” Says Apple CEO’ Time Magazine 2010 June 1 retrieved 25 June 2015 from http://techland.time.com/2010/06/01/foxconn-suicides-eh-theyre-below-average/

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HuangHao ‘Guo Taiming: chule daoqian haishi daoqian’ (Except Apologies, There’re Still Apologies) Jing Bao (Jing News) 2010 May 27 retrieved 16 August 2016 from http://business.sohu.com/20100527/n272382468.shtml

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • iLabour ‘2015 nian Fushikang gongzi gongshi yu qiye guanli xianzhuang diaoyan baogao’ (2015 Investigation Report on Salary, Work Hours, and Current Management of Foxconn) 2015 April 25 Retrieved 6 May 2015 from http://www.ilabour.net/html/xxyj/dcbg/3774.html

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • IsherwoodCharles ‘Speaking Less Than Truth to Power’ New York Times 2012 March 18 C1

  • JimClare ‘Apple is Snubbing Foxconn after iPhone 5 Production Problems’ Reuters 2013 May 13 retrieved from 6 May 2015 http://www.businessinsider.com/apple-moving-from-foxconn-to-pegatron-2013-5?international=true&r=US&IR=T

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Jinghua News ‘Fushikang zongcai Guo Taiming yaoqiu shouhui zisha mian ze xieyi’ (Foxconn ceo Terry Guo Demands Withdrawal of Suicide Disclaimers) Soho.com 2010 May 27 retrieved 16 August 2016 from http://news.sohu.com/20100527/n272371994.shtml

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • JonesRichard ‘Something Rotten at Apple’s Core? Shocking Toll of Suicides at iPad Factory in China Revealed’ Daily Mail 2010 May 29 retrieved 6 May 2015 from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1282481/iPad-factory-suicides-China.html

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • KanMichael ‘Foxconn ceo Blames Past Worker Suicides on Breakups, Family Disputes’ Macworld 2014 June 25 retrieved 7 May 2015 from http://www.macworld.co.uk/news/apple/foxconn-ceo-blames-past-worker-suicides-on-breakups-family-disputes-3527167/

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • KriklerJeremy ‘The Zong and the Lord Chief Justice’ History Workshop Journal 2007 64 1 29 47

  • LiLi ‘Fushikang ma xiangqian qinshu yi bei zisha Pinguo diannao shouci huiying’ (Ma Xiangqian’s Relatives Suspect He Was ‘Suicided’, Apple Issues First Response) Apolo News 2010 May 27 retrieved 7 May 2015 from http://hk.aboluowang.com/2010/0527/168041.html#sthash.GH3J6ewp.dpuf

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • LiYongWenWenfeng ‘26 sui Fushikang gongchengshi zuo nao bei qiechu zhi hou’ (26-Year-Old Foxconn Engineer after Surgical Removal of His Left Brain) Jing Bao (Jing News) 2012 September 28 retrieved 16 June 2015 from http://jb.sznews.com/html/2012-09/28/content_2224322.htm

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • LichfieldJohn ‘Telecoms Giant Hit by “Suicide Epidemic”’ The Independent 2014 March 21 27

  • LinYaweiLinHongwen ‘Hong hai jiu dajiang mie liuguo’ (Nine Generals of Hon Hai Extinguishing Six Kingdoms) PChome 2005 March 14 retrieved 14 March 2005 from http://epaper.pchome.com.tw/archive/last.htm?s_dir=20050314&s_code=0089

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • LiuDanWangWei ‘Di yi Caijing Ribao yu Fushikang fabiao lianhe shengming, susong chexiao’ (First Financial Daily and Foxconn Jointly Rescind Law Suit) XinhuaNet 2006 September 3 retrieved 6 May 2015 from http://news.xinhuanet.com/legal/2006-09/03/content_5043257.htm

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lixiong ‘Fushikang shengming: Sun Danyong zisha zheshe chu neibu guanli buzu’ (Foxconn Statement: Sun Danyong Suicide Reflects Shortcomings in Internal Management) Sina Technology 2009 July 21 retrieved 6 May 2015 from http://tech.sina.com.cn/it/2009-07-21/09463281247.shtml

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • National Business Daily ‘Fushikang chai 300 wan pingmi fanghuwang, anzhuang buzu 2 yue bei zhi hen langfei’ (Foxconn Demolishes Protection Nets Installed Less Than Two Months Ago) 2010 August 18 Retrieved 16 August 2010 from http://www.nbd.com.cn/articles/2010-08-18/355130.html

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Netease Tech Channel ‘“Liang’an san di” gaoxiao Fushikang diaoyan zongbaogao quanwen fabu’ (The Twenty-Universities Joint Team Investigation Report on Foxconn) 2010 October 9 Retrieved 6 May 2015 from http://tech.163.com/10/1009/15/6IIHU0KT000915BD.html

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Netease ‘Fushikang yuan gong: zui di yi yue zheng 340 yuan, 700 duo ren zhu yi wu’ (Foxconn Employers Claim Their Minimum Monthly Wage Is 340 Yuan and Over 700 Workers Live in One Dorm Room) 2006 June 17 Retrieved 8 May 2015 from http://tech.163.com/06/0617/04/2JPSLEBE000915BD.html

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Next Magazine ‘Jiashu zhikong Fushikang jinyiwei kuxing’ (Families of Foxconn Victims Reveal Jinyiwei Torture) 2010 June 3 Retrieved 15 August 2016 from http://hk.next.nextmedia.com/article/1056/14093005

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • O’NeilSara ‘The Voyaging Life as a Never-ending Cycle’ Intro to Maritime History 2011 retrieved 1 December 2016 from https://risd.digication.com/intro_to_maritime_history_sara_oneil/Welcome/published

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Oxford Dictionaries ‘Definition of Factory in English’ n.d. OxfordDictionaries.com retrieved 1 December 2016 from https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/factory

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • PattersonOrlando Slavery and Social Death 1982 Kindle DX ed. Harvard University Press

  • PhillipsAbigail ‘Twenty Things You Don’t Know about the Man Who Makes Your iPhone’ Manufacturing Global 2015 January 15 retrieved 28 April 2015 from http://www.manufacturingglobal.com/lean/322/20-things-you-didn’t-know-about-the-man-who-makes-your-iPhone:-Foxconn-CEO-Terry-Gou

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • PunNgaiChanJenny ‘The Spatial Politics of Labour in China: Life, Labour, and a New Generation of Migrant Workers’ South Atlantic Quarterly 2013 112 1 79 90

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • PunNgaiChanJennySeldenMark Pingguo beihou de sheng yu si 2015 Hong Kong Chung Hwa Book Co. (Apple Foxconn and the Struggle of Chinese Workers)

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • PunNgaiLuHuilinGuoYuhuaShenYuan Fushikang huihuang beihou de lianhuan tiao (Suicide Express behind the Glory of Foxconn) 2011 Hong Kong Commercial Press

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • PunNgaiShenYuanGuoYuhuaLuHuilinChanJennySeldenMark ‘Apple, Foxconn, and Chinese Workers’ Struggles from a Global Labour Perspective’ Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 2016 17 2 166 185

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • QiuJack Linchuan Goodbye iSlave: A Manifesto for Digital Abolition 2016 University of Illinois Press

  • RauhalaEmily ‘The Poet Who Died for Your Phone’ Time Magazine 2015 June 5 retrieved 9 June 2015 from http://time.com/chinapoet/

  • RedikerMarcus The Slave Ship: A Human History 2007 Kindle DX ed. New York Viking Penguin

  • RedikerMarcus The Amistad Revolution: An Atlantic Odyssey of Slavery and Freedom 2012 New York Penguin Books

  • sacom ‘Workers as Machines: Military Management at Foxconn’ Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour 2015 October 12 retrieved 7 May 2015 from http://sacom.hk/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/report-on-foxconn-workers-as-machines_sacom.pdf

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ShenTingting ‘Shou gongshang, Fushikang que shuo: bushi wo de ren’ (After Work Injury, Foxconn Said: Not My Worker) Yangcheng Evenging News 2013 December 19 retrieved 16 June 2015 from http://www.ycwb.com/ePaper/ycwb/html/2013-12/19/content_328357.htm?div=0

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ShenYuan The Face of Chinese Nongmingong Paper presented at the September workshop “Network Society of China” 2010 Barcelona Open University of Catalonia

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sina ‘Fushikang zaixian yuangong tiaolou zisha, gongren cheng iPhone shengchan zhi yali da’ (Foxconn Experienced Yet another Staff Suicide – Workers Report Great Pressure from iPhone Production) 2016 August 23 Retrieved 1 November 2016 from http://finance.sina.com.cn/chanjing/gsnews/2016-08-23/doc-ifxvcsrn8979416.shtml

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sina Technology ‘Fushikang, ni gaiguozixin le ma?’ (Foxconn: Have You Changed?) 2012 April 1 Retrieved 6 May 2015 from http://news.dzsc.com/news/html/2012-4-1/138113.html

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sohu ‘Huawei zisha shijian beiwanglu’ (Memo on Suicides in Huawei) 2008 March Retrieved 25 June 2015 from http://tv.sohu.com/s2008/huawei/

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • TanEe Lyn ‘Worker’s Injury Casts Harsh New Light on Foxconn and China’ Reuters 2012a October 10 retrieved 16 June 2015 from http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-foxconn-worker-idUSBRE8991M620121010

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • TanEe Lyn ‘Family of Brain-Damaged Worker Takes Foxconn to Court in China’ Reuters 2012b October 30 retrieved 16 June 2015 from http://www.reuters.com/article/china-foxconn-trial-idUSL3E8LH2F820121030

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tencent Commentaries ‘Fushikang gongren “ziyuan jiaban” zhi mi’ (The Myth of Voluntary Overtime at Foxconn) 2015 February 5 Retrieved 7 May 2015 from http://view.news.qq.com/original/intouchtoday/n3061.html

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • The Economist ‘Back from the Edge: A Dramatic Decline in Suicides’ 2014 June 28 Retrieved 25 June 2015 from http://www.economist.com/news/china/21605942-first-two-articles-chinas-suicide-rate-looks-effect-urbanisation-back

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • TsaiTing-I ‘Employee’s Suicide Puts Hon Hai, Apple in Spotlight’ The Wall Street Journal 2009 July 23 B7

  • WebsterNick ‘Welcome to iPod City: The “Robot” Workers on 15-Hour Days’ The Mail on Sunday 2006 June 14 retrieved 6 May 2015 from http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/welcome-to-ipod-city-629120

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • WilberforceWilliam WilliamCobbett ‘On the Horrors of the Slave Trade’ Cobbett’s Parliamentary History of England: From the Norman Conquest in 1066 to the Year 1803 1789 London Bagshaw R 1806 1820

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • WillamsRhiannon ‘Apple Goes to War with the bbc The Telegraph 2014 December 19 retrieved 7 May 2015 from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/apple/11303052/Apple-working-conditions-Tim-Cook.html

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • XuMingtian Guo Tai-ming he Fushikang (Guo Tai-ming and Foxconn) 2007 Beijing China CITIC Press

  • XuShikai ‘Kong Fushikang hai gongren li ai, gang, tai laotuan jiang fu gudonghui chenqing’ (Protesting Foxconn Causing Workers to Have Cancer, Labour ngos in Hong Kong and Taiwan Joining Foxconn Stakeholders’ Meeting to File A Petition) Civil Media 2015 June 24 retrieved 29 June 2015 from http://www.civilmedia.tw/archives/33321

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • YanYang ‘Fuxujin guogao, hui bianxiang guli yuangong zisha ma? (Will High Compensation Unwittingly Encourage Employee Suicides?) Prosecution Daily 2010 May 28 retrieved 16 August 2016 from http://newspaper.jcrb.com/html/2010-05/28/content_45927.htm

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • YangJune ‘Samsung Electronics Workers Commit Suicide, Policy Say’ Bloomberg 2011 January 13

  • ZhaiRui ‘Shenzhen Longhua Fushikang jiben qingkuang’ (Basic Situation at Shenzhen’s Foxconn Longhua) Tianya bbs 2013 June 19 retrieved 7 May 2015 from http://bbs.tianya.cn/post-free-3407454-1.shtml

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ZhangShuyiZhangDianwenZhifangLu Sanqianyi chuanqi: Guo Tai-ming de Fushikang (Legend of Three Hundred Billion: Foxconn’s Guo Tai-ming) 2002 Beijing Machinery Industry Press

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ZuCuijun ‘Shu wan yuangong zhao zhi lai hui zhi qu? Fushikang wan zhuan renli ziben’ (Firing and Hiring Tens of Thousands of Employees at Will? Foxconn Is Good at Playing with Human Resources) China Computer Daily 2009 March 25 retrieved 14 June 2015 from http://big5.huaxia.com/tslj/qycf/2009/03/1365869.html

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
Figures
  • View in gallery
    The slave ship Brooks and the plan of its lower deck, 1788.

    source: us library of congress (digital id: cph.3a34658).

  • View in gallery
    Inside the peace dormitory building at Foxconn Longhua, 2006.

    source: netease (2006).

  • View in gallery
    Slave ship equipped with anti-jumping net, as depicted by Olaudah Equiano, 1745-1797.

    source: o’neil (2011).

  • View in gallery
    A typical Foxconn dormitory building with anti-jumping nets.

    line work: kwan kei heung.

Index Card
Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 820 798 43
Full Text Views 273 273 1
PDF Downloads 42 42 2
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0