The Agony of Confusion


While watching this interpretation of Mike Daisey’s podcast, I couldn’t help but compare the two. I was even more engaged this time because it prompted me to think more deeply. As Alex Lyras talked about the cult of Apple, I began to think about my own actions and perceptions of Apple. I buy these products because I have fallen into the cult like thinking of Apple consumers. I always want the newest products that they release, so as to stay relevant. We would all like to think that that is not the driving reason behind our purchases, but the truth is that we are heavily influenced by what is popular. So I began to think, what if what became popular was the human rights of the workers that made these products for us? Do we have the ability to affect change on this global scale? Would it ever be possible for us to come to a consensus where we were able to put enough pressure on Apple to change their ways? In reality, I think it is far fetched to think that the consumers could band together on a global scale to influence Apple to change.

Furthermore, I began to wonder who was truly to blame in this situation. Is it the government of the country in which the factories are stationed? Is it Apple as a corporation? As I watched the interview with Steve Jobs, he was adamant that Apple was committed to working ethically with these factories such as Foxconn. Jobs claims that they have annual reports on their working conditions. It seems clear to me that they are consciously monitoring their working conditions, so what else is expected? Being that they cannot constantly monitor Foxconn as Apple is not based in China, the blame cannot be placed completely on Apple or Steve Jobs. I wonder, are the people managing Foxconn honestly following the rules? Are they hiring underage workers? Are the conditions up to code? There are so many questions that I have for the people involved in this global issue. I don’t even know where to begin. I think that the first step is to define where the source of the problem begins, and attack it piece by piece.

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5 responses to “The Agony of Confusion

  1. I think that the blame falls on everyone. China, Foxconn, Apple, and the consumers. As Freeman talked about last night, there is a need for wide-spread revolution. No one group can create the change needed to improve these manufacturing conditions, they need to all work as one. I believe the most important group is the consumers, who have to be willing to make changes in their lives to improve these conditions. Customers “speak with their wallets”, and if they stop buying Apple products and/or moved to products more focussed on helping the environment and manufacturing conditions, companies like Apple will be forced to change.

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  2. I share many of the feelings you expressed in your second paragraph. In my post, I mention that trying to pinpoint the blame in this situation is difficult and reminds me of bystander intervention, where there are multiple points where a problem can be stopped. While Apple claims to be closely monitoring the working conditions, Foxconn is in China and Apple is in California. While the blame cannot be placed completely on Apple, Apple does have the power to hire domestic suppliers or at least sever ties with Foxconn until working conditions are confirmed to be improved.

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  3. I liked you point about making good working conditions what is popular. I think the consumer has a great amount of power, because without the support of the customers, Apple would have to do something to regain the interest. However, the power is in the numbers, and without enough people, there would not be much of an impact. I think the image of what is “cool” would be the solution. People would have to associate Apple with poor working conditions, so when someone has an Apple product it is looked down upon. The brand image on Apple would have to change in the consumers’ eyes.

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  4. Total monitoring is costly for Apple. It is also a little authoritarian.

    But if its only connection to a supplier is a limited-term contract (X dollars for Y units), then it may have little choice to ensure quality (or production AND ethics). However, there are other dimensions to the supplier-supplied relationship, especially if they repeat transactions, as Apple and Foxconn clearly do.

    While monitoring and auditing can help, why not work on a deeper relationship where trust, common interests, and transparency can shape Foxconn (and Apple’s) corporate behavior?

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