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research

Social Theory, China and Global Social Development

jenny chan

Title:
Assistant Professor


Qualifications:
PhD (London)
MPhil (HKU)
BSSc (CUHK)
Cert (Oxford)

 

Email:
jenny.wl.chan@polyu.edu.hk


Phone:
2766 5743


Office:
HJ433


Specialism:

Labor
Class
Migration

Globalization
The State
Sociology
China

 

My URLs:  
CV

 

Teaching:

Global China (Subject Coordinator)

Contemporary Chinese Society and Popular Culture (Subject Coordinator)

Supervision of Research Degree Student (PhD)

Introduction to Sociology

 

Honors and Awards:

2021 – 2022 Leader of Professional Society/Association at International Level,

Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

2018, Best Teaching Award, Department of Applied Social Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

2015 – 2018, Junior Research Fellowship, Kellogg College, The University of Oxford

2013 – 2014, Chinese Student Award, The Great Britain-China Educational trust, The Great Britain-China Centre, London

 

Academic Appointments:

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Assistant Professor (2016 to present), Department of Applied Social Sciences

The University of Oxford

Lecturer (2014 – 2016), Contemporary China Studies, School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies; Oxford School of Global and Area Studies

Junior Research Fellow (2015 – 2018), Kellogg College 

 

Current and Past Research

Dying for an iPhone: Apple, Foxconn and the Lives of China’s Workers (2010-2020)

This book-length project is based primarily on first-hand research conducted at multiple Foxconn factory sites across China between 2010 (triggered by a spate of worker suicides) and 2019. It locates the global production chains of Apple and Foxconn within the broad parameters of China’s industrial transformation and the changing face of Chinese labor-capital-state relations. The chapters trace the rise to dominance of Foxconn (the world’s largest electronics manufacturer) and Apple (the world’s most profitable tech brand) in China and globally at the turn of the 21st century. The analysis highlights huge discrepancies between corporate claims and worker testimonies—discrepancies that are explored in the course of our decade-long research. Coauthored with Mark Selden and Pun Ngai, I view our book as a potential contribution to a broader social movement that might bring together workers, environmentalists, students, researchers and consumers. We illustrate a key theme running through the book that an alternate world is possible and necessary.

 

Express Delivery, Labor and Platform Capitalism in China (2017-2021)

This project traces the privatization of postal services and the changing labor relations of delivery service work in China’s digital economy. A majority of deliverymen, unlike those directly employed by the state-owned EMS and the biggest privately-run SF Express, are classified as “independent contractors” under franchise. As self-employed individuals, however, they are not entitled to employment contracts or social insurance benefits. While these “micro-entrepreneurs” enjoy a certain degree of freedom at work, I find that they are simultaneously regulated by mobile logistics technologies, supervisors, and customers, resulting in steady intensification of labor, reduction of delivery times, and securing of higher profit for the company at the expense of workers. Deliverymen seek to beat the time specified to pick, pack, and send the goods as a means to increase their income. But it is precisely in this way that they routinely consent to their own exploitation by driving up the required speed for fellow workers. The isolated and atomized work environment induces further competition through price-cutting, slashing personal income and weakening labor solidarity. Through participant observation in Beijing and extensive review of company data, this research will contribute to platform capitalism, gender studies, and labor politics in global China.

 

Internships, Informal Labor and Vocational Skills Training in China (2018-2021)

Jenny Chan is principal investigator of a Research Grants Council’s Early Career Scheme Project (RGC ECS Project No. 25602517) on “Internships, Informal Labor and Vocational Skills Training in China,” which builds on previous research funded by a John Fell Oxford University Press (OUP) Research Fund. While it focuses on China's working youth, internships are now widespread and the subject of controversy throughout the world. This research centers on the state-capital-school relationship in framing student internships in China’s development. Interestingly, some employers are climbing value chains by upskilling their employees through methods including the recruitment of student interns. But others collaborate with local governments and school administrations to exploit legal loopholes incentivized by the convenience of obtaining interns under short-term employment and by the low cost of young students’ labor, including non-contribution of social security. The informalization of labor, particularly the place of student interns, deserve detailed analysis. In the context of slowing growth and an ageing population, proper training of vocational students is significant to sustainable development in China and far beyond.

 

Selected Publications

Writing in English and Chinese; Translated into Italian, Spanish, French, German, Polish, Korean, and other languages.

 

Books:

Jenny Chan, Mark Selden and Pun Ngai. 2020. Dying for an iPhone: Apple, Foxconn and the Lives of China’s Migrant Workers. Chicago, IL: Haymarket Books; and, London, UK: Pluto Press. ISBN: 0745341284 / 9780745341286 / 1642591246 / 9781642591248.

*Translated into Korean (2021), Seoul: Narumbooks.

Yang, Jenny Chan, Xu Lizhi, Li Fei and Zhang Xiaoqio. 2019. La máquina es tu amo y señor (The Machine is Your Lord and Master). Translated into Spanish by Thierry Discepolo. Barcelona, Spain: Virus Editorial. ISBN: 978-84-92559-90-9.

Yang, Jenny Chan and Xu Lizhi. 2015. La machine est ton seigneur et ton maître [The Machine is Your Lord and Master]. Translated into French by Celia Izoard.  Éditions Agone. x, 110 pages. ISBN: 978-2-7489-0238-9.

潘毅、陳慧玲、馬克.塞爾登。2015。《蘋果背後的生與死──生產線上的富士康工人》。劉昕亭 譯。香港︰中華書局。xv, 238頁。ISBN: 978-988-8310-74-6。

Pun Ngai, Jenny Chan and Mark Selden. 2015. Morire per un iPhone [Dying for an iPhone]. Translated into Italian by Ferruccio Gambino and Giorgio Grappi. Edited by Ferruccio Gambino and Devi Sacchetto. Milan: Jaca Book. 269 pages. ISBN: 978-88-16-41246-0.

Pun Ngai, Jenny Chan and Mark Selden. 2014. Morir por un iPhone [Dying for an iPhone]. Translated into Spanish by Florencia Olivera. Edited by Andrés Ruggeri. Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, Argentina: Ediciones Continente S.R.L. 220 pages. ISBN: 978-950-754-501-6.

 

Journals:

Special Issues

Critical Sociology, 2019, “Precarization and Labor Resistance,” July, 45(4-5).

*Editors: Jenny Chan, Manjusha Nair, Chris Rhomberg

*Contributors: Rachel K. Brickner & Meaghan Dalton, Peter Ikeler, Lucas A. Franco, Sara Duvisac, Irene Pang

 

Journal Articles

Jenny Chan. 2021. “Hunger for Profit: How Food Delivery Platforms Manage Couriers in China.” Sociologias 23(57): 58-82.

Jenny Chan, Greg Distelhorst, Dimitri Kessler, Joonkoo Lee, Olga Martin-Ortega, Peter Pawlicki, Mark Selden and Benjamin Selwyn. 2021. “After the Foxconn Suicides in China: A Roundtable on Labor, States and Civil Society in Global Electronics.” Critical Sociology, pp. 1-23 [Online First 24 Aug].

Jenny Chan, with Mark Levinson. 2021. “Dreams and Defiance in Foxconn City: An Interview with Jenny Chan,” Dissent (Spring): 33-40.

Jenny Chan. 2020. “A Precarious Worker-Student Alliance in Xi’s China.” The China Review: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Greater China 20(1): 165-90.

Jenny Chan. 2019. “Jasic Workers Fight for Union Rights.” New Politics, Vol. XVII No. 2, Whole Number 66, Winter, 84-89.

Jenny Chan. 2019. “State and Labor in China, 1978-2018.” Journal of Labor and Society. 22(2): 461-75.

Jenny Chan, Manjusha Nair and Chris Rhomberg. 2019. “Precarization and Labor Resistance: Canada, the United States, India and China.” Critical Sociology. 45(4-5): 469-83.

陈慧玲。2018。〈中国实习劳工〉。《中国乡村研究》, 专题“中国的非正规经济再思考”,第14辑,页78-97。

Jenny Chan. 2017. “Intern Labor in China.” Rural China: An International Journal of History and Social Science 14: 82-100.

Jenny Chan and Mark Selden. 2017. “The Labour Politics of China’s Rural Migrant Workers.” Globalizations 14(2): 259-71.

Pun Ngai, Yuan Shen, Yuhua Guo, Huilin Lu, Jenny Chan and Mark Selden. 2016. “Apple, Foxconn, and Chinese Workers’ Struggles from a Global Labor Perspective.” Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 17(2): 166-85.

Jenny Chan, Pun Ngai and Mark Selden. 2015. “Interns or Workers? China’s Student Labor Regime.” Asian Studies (Official Journal of the Asian Studies Association of Hong Kong) 1(1): 69-98.

*Jointly published with The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 13, Issue 36, No. 2. 

Chris Smith and Jenny Chan. 2015. “Working for Two Bosses: Student Interns as Constrained Labour in China.” Human Relations 68(2): 305-26.

Jenny Chan and Mark Selden. 2014. “China’s Rural Migrant Workers, the State, and Labor Politics.” Critical Asian Studies 46(4): 599-620.

Pun Ngai, Shen Yuan, Guo Yuhua, Lu Huilin, Jenny Chan and Mark Selden. 2014. “Worker-Intellectual Unity: Trans-Border Sociological Intervention in Foxconn.” Current Sociology 62(2): 209-22.

Jenny Chan. 2013. “A Suicide Survivor: The Life of a Chinese Worker.” New Technology, Work and Employment 28(2): 84-99.

Jenny Chan, Pun Ngai and Mark Selden. 2013. “The Politics of Global Production: Apple, Foxconn and China’s New Working Class.” New Technology, Work and Employment 28(2): 100-15.

Pun Ngai and Jenny Chan. 2013. “The Spatial Politics of Labor in China: Life, Labor, and a New Generation of Migrant Workers.” The South Atlantic Quarterly 112(1): 179-90.

Pun Ngai and Jenny Chan. 2012. “Global Capital, the State, and Chinese Workers: The Foxconn Experience.” Modern China 38(4): 383-410.

Jenny Chan and Pun Ngai. 2010. “Suicide as Protest for the New Generation of Chinese Migrant Workers.” The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 18, Iss. 37, No. 2.

Chris King-Chi Chan, Pun Ngai and Jenny Chan. 2010. “The Role of the State, Labor Policy and Migrant Workers’ Struggles in Globalized China.” Global Labor Journal 1(1): 132-51.

Jenny Chan. 2009. “Meaningful Progress or Illusory Reform? Analyzing China’s Labor Contract Law.” New Labor Forum: A Journal of Ideas, Analysis and Debates 18(2): 43-51.

 

Book Chapters:

(In progress). Jenny Chan. “Informalization of Labour in China, 1980s to the Present.” Research Handbook on the Global Political Economy of Work, edited by Maurizio Atzeni, Alessandra Mezzadri, Dario Azzellini, Phoebe Moore and Ursula Apitzschy. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.

(Forthcoming). Jenny Chan. “Buy with 1-Click: Independent Contracting and Migrant Workers in China’s Last-Mile Delivery.” Global Labor Migration: New Directions, edited by Eileen Boris, Heidi Gottfried, Julie Greene, and Joo-Cheong Tham. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press.

(Forthcoming). Jenny Chan. “The Foxconn Suicide Express.” Proletarian China: A Century of Chinese Labour, edited by Ivan Franceschini and Christian Sorace. London: Verso Books.

Jenny Chan. 2021. “Worker Organizing in China: Challenges and Opportunities.” Pp. 197-217 in Workers’ Inquiry and Global Class Struggle: Strategies, Tactics, Objectives, edited by Robert Ovetz. London: Pluto Press.

Tony Dundon and Jenny Chan. 2021. “HRM in China’s New Global Economy.” Pp. 17-18 in Contemporary Human Resource Management: Text and Cases, edited by Adrian Wilkinson, Tony Dundon and Tom Redman. 6th Edition. London: SAGE.

Jenny Chan. 2020. “Employee Voice in China.” Pp. 524-38 in Handbook of Research on Employee Voice, edited by Adrian Wilkinson, Jimmy Donaghey, Tony Dundon and Richard B. Freeman. 2nd Edition. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Jenny Chan. 2020. “Labor Practices in Apple’s Supply Chains in China.” Pp. 266-71 in Case Studies in Work, Employment and Human Resource Management, edited by Tony Dundon and Adrian Wilkinson. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Jenny Chan. 2019. “Biss in Den Sauren Apfel: Zu den Arbeitsbedingungen vom Apple-Lieferanten Foxconn in China.” [Bite in the Sour Apple: The Working Conditions of Apple Supplier Foxconn in China.] Pp. 19-22 in Was Bits & Bäume verbindet: Digitalisierung nachhaltig gestalten [What Connects Bits & Trees: Making Digitization Sustainable], edited by Anja Höfner and Vivian Frick. Technical University’s Center for Technology and Society. Munich: Oekom verlag.

Jenny Chan. 2019. “Researching Unfree Student Labour in Apple’s Supply Chain.” Pp. 130-47 in Researching Forced Labour in the Global Economy: Methodological Challenges and Advances, edited by Genevieve LaBaron. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Jenny Chan and Mark Selden. 2019. “Labor Legislation, Workers, and the Chinese State.” Pp. 105-18 in Handbook of Protest and Resistance in China, edited by Teresa Wright. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Pun Ngai, Jenny Chan and Mark Selden. 2019. “Suicide or Murder? Apple, Foxconn, and China’s Workers.” Pp. 151-71 in Sociology and Social Justice, edited by Margaret Abraham. SAGE Studies in International Sociology (SSIS Series 65). London: SAGE.

Jenny Chan. 2018. “Economic Growth and Labor Security.” Pp. 166-88 in The SAGE Handbook of Contemporary China, 2 Volume Set, edited by Weiping Wu and Mark Frazier. London: SAGE.

Jenny Chan. 2018. “The Collective Resistance of China’s Industrial Workers.” Pp. 107-25 in Global Perspectives on Workers’ and Labour Organisations, edited by Maurizio Atzeni and Immanuel Ness. Singapore: Springer.

Jenny Chan. 2018. “Assessing Working-Class Power in Postsocialist China.” Pp. 164-83 in On the Road to Global Labor History: A Festschrift for Marcel van der Linden, edited by Karl Heinz Roth. Leiden, the Netherlands: Koninklijke Brill NV.  

Jenny Chan. 2018. “#iSlaveat10.” Pp. 102-5 in Gilded Age: A Year of Chinese Labour, Civil Society, and Rights—Made in China Yearbook 2017, edited by Ivan Franceschini and Nicholas Loubere. Canberra, Australia: The Australian National University.

Jenny Chan, Mark Selden and Pun Ngai. 2017. “‘Growth, Thy Name is Suffering’: The Workers of the Workshop of the World.” Pp. 318-23 in World Factory: The Game, edited by Zoë Svendsen and Simon Daw. London: Nick Hern Books.

Jenny Chan. 2017. “Chinese Workers in Global Production and Local Resistance.” Pp. 98-117 in The Great Refusal: Herbert Marcuse and Contemporary Social Movements, edited by Andrew T. Lamas, Todd Wolfson, and Peter N. Funke. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Jenny Chan and Mark Selden. 2017. “The Labour Politics of China’s Rural Migrant Workers.” Pp. 81-93 in Chinese Labour in the Global Economy: Capitalist Exploitation and Strategies of Resistance, edited by Andreas Bieler and Chun-Yi Lee. Rethinking Globalizations Series. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Tony Dundon and Jenny Chan. 2017. “Fire Fighting HRM in China’s New Global Economy.” Case Study 1.2. Pp. 24-25 in Contemporary Human Resource Management: Texts and Cases, edited by Adrian Wilkinson, Tom Redman and Tony Dundon. 5th Ed. Harlow, England: Pearson Education.

Jenny Chan, Pun Ngai and Mark Selden. 2016. “The Politics of Global Production: Apple, Foxconn and China’s New Working Class.” Pp. 353-76 in Labour in Global Value Chains in Asia, edited by Dev Nathan, Meenu Tewari and Sandip Sarkar. United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.

Jenny Chan, Pun Ngai and Mark Selden. 2016. “Apple, Foxconn, and China’s New Working Class.” Pp. 173-89 in Achieving Workers’ Rights in the Global Economy, edited by Richard P. Appelbaum and Nelson Lichtenstein. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Jenny Chan, Pun Ngai and Mark Selden. 2016. “Labor Protests and Trade Union Reforms in China.” Pp. 207-24 in Flexible Workforces and Low Profit Margins: Electronics Assembly between Europe and China, edited by Jan Drahokoupil, Rutvica Andrijasevic and Devi Sacchetto. Brussels, Belgium: ETUI (European Trade Union Institute).

Jenny Chan, Pun Ngai and Mark Selden. 2016. “Chinese Labor Protest and Trade Unions.” Pp. 290-302 in The Routledge Companion to Labor and Media, edited by Richard Maxwell. New York: Routledge.

Jenny Chan and Mark Selden. 2016. “China’s Rural Migrant Workers and Labour Politics.” Pp. 362-82 in Handbook on Class and Social Stratification in China, edited by Yingjie Guo. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.

陈慧玲、潘毅、马克.塞尔登。2016。〈中国的工人抗争和工会改革〉。《社论前沿》。

Jenny Chan, Pun Ngai and Mark Selden. 2015. “Apple’s iPad City: Subcontracting Exploitation to China.” Pp. 76-97 in Handbook of the International Political Economy of Production, edited by Kees van der Pijl. Cheltenham, UK:

李长江、陈慧玲。2012。〈富士康走出西部〉,第六篇。《我在富士康》,潘毅、卢晖临、郭于华、沈原 (编著)。北京︰知识产权出版社。

Jenny Chan. 2012. “Labor Rights Training at HP Supplier Factories in China.” Pp. 314-27 in Industrial Democracy in China: With Additional Studies on Germany, South-Korea and Vietnam, edited by Rudolf Traub-Merz and Kinglun Ngok. Beijing: China Social Sciences Press.

陈慧玲。2012。〈惠普中国供应厂中的劳工权利培训〉。《中国产业民主︰兼论德国、韩国与越南》,鲁道夫.特劳普—梅茨、岳经纶 (编著)。北京︰中国社会科学出版社。

Chris King-Chi Chan, Pun Ngai and Jenny Chan. 2010. “The Role of the State, Labor Policy and Migrant Workers’ Struggles in Globalized China.” Pp. 45-83 in Globalization and Labor in China and India: Impacts and Responses, edited by Paul Bowles and John Harriss. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

 

Dissertation Supervising:

Zhou Qi (PhD Candidate, Department of Applied Social Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University), 2018-present

Hou Liqi (PhD Candidate, Department of Applied Social Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University), 2017-present

Ken Yau (PhD awarded in 2020, Department of Applied Social Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University) 

  

Grants, Fellowships and Scholarships (selected): 

2019-2023 International Research Network, The Centre for National Scientific Research in France (Centre national de la recherche scientifique, CNRS), “China’s Rise and the New Social Norms in ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations)” [with Dr Elsa Lafaye de Micheaux and colleagues]

2021-2022 Staff Development Grants, Department of Applied Social Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

2021-2022 Departmental Research Fund, Department of Applied Social Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, “Labor Responses to Flexible Employment in China’s Electronics Industry”

2018-2021 Early Career Scheme, Hong Kong Research Grants Council, “Internships, Informal Labor and Vocational Skills Training in China”

2018-2019 Staff Development Grants, Department of Applied Social Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

2017-2022 Start-Up Fund, Department of Applied Social Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, “The Transformation of China’s Working Class”

2016-2017 Staff Development Grants, Department of Applied Social Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

2015-2016 John Fell Oxford University Press Research Fund, “Learning for Jobs: Internship, Vocational Education, and the Law in China”

2015-2018 Junior Research Fellowship, Kellogg College, University of Oxford

2014-2016 Research Grants, Contemporary China Studies, School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies, University of Oxford

2013-2014 Chinese Student Award, The Great Britain-China Educational Trust, The Great Britain-China Centre, London

2009-2012 Reid Research Scholarship, Faculty of History and Social Sciences, University of London