Made in China – Assignment 3
For this assignment my group and I decided to look more closely into what items are actually manufactured in China, and if the people who buy them know where they are being made. It all stemmed from Jonathan’s lecture on Wednesday in which we watched a short programme on the massive factory industry in China, where the majority of products are manufactured due to cheaper labour. I never really thought about where my clothes, iPod and everyday essentials were made until after watching that documentary.
Many people would leave there families and poverty behind to go work for the massive company called EUPA, where everyday essentials are made. They live there, eat there, can get married there and their children attend school there. It is often known as the “Factory City”, in the southeast corner of China. The massive workforce put out nearly 15 million irons a year, and also millions of grills, microwaves, coffee makers and blenders. The show focuses not only how the goods are made, but how the factory operates. Looking into the mass production of food being made to feed to worked and the cramped living conditions where employees stay.
“It’s a novel concept for the rest of the world. But it’s become the way of life for China, where a new industrial revolution is unfolding on a scale the world has never seen”
It is seen now as Modern China, with the factory the size of a City and work that never stops. The company is fiercely loyal to their employees but there are also a lot of negatives to working for such a large business. Employees have to literally devote their lives to the company by leaving everything behind. It is an overwhelming atmosphere for new employees, juggling work, school and social life together. There are over 17000 workers, who dedicate roughly 40 hours non -stop work a week to the company, earning only $300 a month. The workplace is also run like a military rank, where the workers all wear the same uniform and line up etc.
But there are still massive positives to working for EUPA. Food is supplied, housing is supplied, opportunities such as sports are supplied, and they even encourage work relationships.
The thing I found most bizarre was that people who were in a relationship at work, actually wanted to get married in a mass wedding. Numerous couples would participate in a mass wedding, paid for by EUPA as it was seen as good luck.
Our group all went down to the Overgate shopping Centre in Dundee, to ask people we did not know if they knew any idea where there products were manufactured. The majority has no idea at all.
1) Do you have any idea where the majority of your products are produced?
2) Are you willing to pay a bit more money for clothes if you knew they were made in better conditions?
3) Do you own any Apple products and/or know where they were manufactured?
Female, 23 year old
1) Probably not
2) Possibly, it’s a fairer way
3) Mac computer, I phone and didn’t know where was made. Guessed the USA
Female, 20 year old
1) No idea where from
2) Yes willing to pay more. She actually stopped shopping at Primark all together when their manufacturing process was exposed.
3) IPod. had no idea.
Male, 25 year old
1) Guessed India
2) He would pay more. Never crossed his mind when purchasing something
3) Doesn’t own any. Guessed Japan
Female – 17 years old
1) Not a clue
Female – 69 years old
1) Assumed China.
2) Would have been willing to pay more for certain products if they were produced more fairly and working conditions were better.
3) Didn’t own any Apple products. Had just bought a HP computer and was happy with it. Assumed the parts were made abroad.
We then decided to go into some shops and see what Employees had to say about the manufacturing of the products they sell…
Male – 22 years old – Apple Shop Worker
1) Yes. Worked in the Apple shop so knew quite a lot about where the components were built and how poor the conditions of the workers are.
2) Would definitely pay more for the product, even if built in the west and cost more. He stated that the love for the product was the main reason, and if working conditions were improved or even moved to the west, he would still buy them.
3) Yes. Pretty much owns every Apple product known on Earth. Knows they are built in factories in China.
Female – 23 years old – Works in SuperDry
1) When we first asked her if she knew where the clothes she was selling were made from she replied with “I’m not sure were allowed to tell you that”. We stated that it says on the label. Then she went onto say that the majority was made in China.
2) We asked her if she were to have the choice of buying the same polo shirt, one made in China and one made in America, would she pay more for the one that was made with better working conditions and fairer pay. She eventually stated that she would, after discussing she had done a college course in fashion and discovered that even though Primark got exposed for the working conditions their products were being made in, that Sports shops such as JJB were no better.
3) She didn’t own any Apple products, but assumed they were made in Asia.
We also had a snoop around Topman and Superdry to see where the majority of their clothes were manufactured.
Topshop clearly labeled at the neck where that item had been made but in Superdry it was more difficult to find. We also discovered that it was mainly the thick coats that had been produced in China. These costs were selling from £80 right up to £110 in Superdry. But made you think, did it really cost that much money to make? The other popular countries were Mauritius, Turkey, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. In Superdry most Clothing explained on the label that the item had been designed in Britain but made in China.
We came to the conclusion that barely anybody that we interviewed had no idea where any of their items were manufactured. Even shop workers didn’t have much more knowledge where the items they were selling, were made. I feel like this subject should be more looked into, as people genuinely did seem interested and would be willing to pay a bit more for a product made more ethnically.