It’s hard not to get a lump in your throat when you read about the grueling conditions in Chinese factories. It’s hard not to feel guilt about those working 70 hours a week in Foxconn factories where iPhones and iPads are assembled, or to feel shocked at revelations that workers in toy factories regularly receive fines for going to the bathroom without permission.
But as Leslie T. Chang, the author of the book Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China, explains in this talk from TEDGlobal 2012, those emotions obscure a larger point — that factory workers aren’t simply toiling to provide cheap products to the West. They are also toiling to make products for their own people, as well as to change their personal circumstances.
“We, the beneficiaries of globalization seem to exploit these victims with every purchase we make and the injustice feels…
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