Corporate Social Responsibility and Labor Standards in China
This chapter considers the concrete implications of labor-related corporate social responsibility (CSR) in consumer products industries in China. As China became the “factory to the world” the discourse and practice of CSR greatly expanded. But restrictions on workers’ rights, the marginal status of migrant workers, and a “dormitory labor regime” that facilitates long working hours are difficult to square with global norms. Using qualitative evidence from interviews, the chapter reveals problems with factory auditing and corporate compliance initiatives that have allowed exploitative practices to continue despite the embrace of CSR. Using quantitative data on a sample of workers and factories in Guangdong province, the chapter examines the practical implications of SA8000 certification and other private standards. In several ways, the chapter shows how compliance with private rules has been redefined to be compatible with the repressive Chinese context.
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