In the lecture this week, professor Downey talked about the controversy of one of Apple’s biggest suppliers Foxconn. He also mentioned the Foxconn suicides occurred 3 years ago when several employees jumped off the dorms. I happened to follow the news in 2010, and by reviewing the tragedy now, I find it still worth of studying under the topic of information society.
Who is responsible for these people?
Although Apple has its Supplier Responsibility clearly stated “Ending excessive work hours”, it seems that overworking is quite common in Apple’s suppliers’ factories. Although as a profitable company, Apple could claim it is the supplier's fault, but as said in class, it is possible for Apple to enforce its protocol. However, who wants to cut off the profit?!
As a major manufacturer for Apple and other digital device companies, there is little doubt that Foxcunn also aims at profit. Placing its major factories in developing countries like China, it gains the freedom of overwork its employees without being confronted by the labor union. The flexibility of Foxcunn is what makes it truly valuable to Apple, and what makes it a “labor camp”.
Many people who work at Foxcunn are from the rural area, who may not have the chance to go to college and receive higher education. The working condition in Foxcunn may not be the best, but it does offer them opportunities to stay in big cities. What makes them desperate is possibly not the living condition, but the monotonous way of working (which requires the employees to do the same kind of simple task for hours everyday), the lack of social connection (since they spend over 10 hours a day at the assembly line) as well as the disillusion of city dream (in which everything should be glamorous and surreal).
To be realistic, as an Apple customer myself, I don’t think I ever thought about the labor process behind the digital devices when I got them. However, it is not an excuse to overlook the problem and hold blind trust in technology and its innocence. In the information and network society, technology greatly improves communication between people, but the improvement is not coming without a price. I think that while enjoying the convenience brought by high-tech revolution today, it is crucial to hold back sometimes and ponder over what might go wrong.