Suicides, excessive overtime, and 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 means 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.’
"While the book tells the story of the strategic exploitation of a million-strong workforce, at its heart are the individual struggles of the workers themselves, conveyed in their lyrics, poetry and statements. 'Each screw turns diligently / but they can’t turn around our future,' writes one. 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." —The Times Literary Supplement
"Dying for an iPhone is deeply researched, comprehensively annotated and fuelled by anger." —South China Morning Post
"Dying for an iPhone, by sociologists Jenny Chan, Mark Selden and Pun Ngai, tackles head-on the unsavoury practices associated in the Chinese factories that produce Apple’s bestselling product." —Oliver Farry, The Irish Times
"Dying for an iPhone balances heartbreaking worker interviews with carefully compiled employment and financial data from Apple and Foxconn to present a compelling case against the tech giant and its suppliers." —Booklist
"A damning indictment of Apple’s labor and supply practices....Chan, Selden, and Ngai persuasively argue that the relationship between Apple and shadowy Chinese manufacturing giant Foxconn epitomizes the brutality of globalized late-stage capitalism....The authors merge deep dives into data with chilling testimonials from workers, including some who attempted suicide....[The authors] harness disturbing and varied evidence, including anecdotes, corporate communications, and first-person accounts, creating a compelling exposé of what lies behind one of the most recognizable icons of consumerism....A valuable contribution to an overdue discussion about technology and privilege." —Kirkus
"Dying for an iPhone is far and away the most comprehensive account of the lives and working conditions of the people who produce what is perhaps the iconic commodity of the 21st century—the iPhone. But it is much more than that. We also see how Apple and Foxconn, working within a neoliberal trade regime promoted by the US, Taiwanese, and Chinese governments alike, transcended national boundaries to develop a brutally exploitative system of labor discipline. It is an incisive account of the social dislocation, but also the resistance, wrought when capitalists of many nations unite against workers. Global in outlook while still presenting fine-grained and highly engaging accounts of workers’ lived experiences, this book is a shining example of public scholarship." —Eli Friedman, co-editor of China on Strike
"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
"When reading chapters describing the assembly line experience of workers, and the scientific management system, I could only compare it to the chapter in Marx’s Capital, when we are taken into the hidden abode of production. Dying for an iPhone is truly a great achievement to present such incisive description and analysis in a highly readable and accessible form." —Jeffery Hermanson, International Union Educational League
"Holding a sleek new iPhone in our hands it is difficult to imagine the brutal work lives of the people who assemble our smartphones. In Dying for an iPhone Jenny Chan, Mark Selden, and Pun Ngai make this reality visible. Drawing on in-depth field work and a deep knowledge of the global electronics industry, the authors demonstrate not only the steep human cost of our love affair with smartphones, but also the fierce struggles by Chinese workers to improve their working conditions." —Nicole Aschoff, author of The Smartphone Society: Technology, Power, and Resistance in the New Gilded Age
"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
"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
"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