The politics of global production : Apple, Foxconn and China's new working class

Jenny CHAN*, Ngai PUN, Mark SELDEN

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

168 Citations (Scopus)


Apple's commercial triumph rests in part on the outsourcing of its consumer electronics production to Asia. Drawing on extensive fieldwork at China's leading exporter-the Taiwanese-owned Foxconn-the power dynamics of the buyer-driven supply chain are analysed in the context of the national terrains that mediate or even accentuate global pressures. Power asymmetries assure the dominance of Apple in price setting and the timing of product delivery, resulting in intense pressures and illegal overtime for workers. Responding to the high-pressure production regime, the young generation of Chinese rural migrant workers engages in a crescendo of individual and collective struggles to define their rights and defend their dignity in the face of combined corporate and state power.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-115
Number of pages16
JournalNew Technology, Work and Employment
Issue number2
Early online date18 Jul 2013
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Center for East Asian Studies in the University of Bristol on November 15, 2012.


  • Apple
  • China
  • Collective actions
  • Consumer electronics manufacturing
  • Foxconn
  • Global supply chains
  • Labour
  • Outsourcing


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