On a tour of the factory notorious for under age workers, riots, and 12 hour workdays, The Atlantic's James Fallows discovers the lighter side of Foxconn. As we're so used to hearing about all the horrible things that happen at the electronics manufacturer, seeing workers relax with a newspaper or on the Internet presents a different image of the campus than the one many have created of suicide nets and bored 14-year-olds fastening screens onto iPhones. These people, like all worker bees, have lives outside of the tedium of the job. Even some of the more unfortunate aspects we hear about turn out not to be so awful, Fallows discovered. Describing the photo above, for example, he softens our understanding of the infamous psychological help centers: "Or this -- the 'staff care' center, which is supposed to help resolve various personal or social problems. It turns out that most of the Foxconn workers sitting and reading -- actual papers! -- were not looking for help but were just taking advantage of the seats and the air-conditioning while on their lunch break," he writes.
Part of the reason we only hear about the doom and gloom is an oversimplification of a complicated issue, perpetuated in part by people like Mike Daisey, who felt the need to embellish certain aspects of life there to make a point. Since Daisey's fabulist take on This American Life, however, we've gotten a much more nuanced understanding of the place that makes our gadgets. It certainly has a dark side. But the campus also has Internet cafes, English classes, and a soccer field. Plus, many Chinese people want to work there. These facts might not fit into our preconceived notion of dystopian Asian factory life, but it's the complex reality.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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