Lori Anderson's Reviews > Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China

Factory Girls by Leslie T. Chang
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's review
Jul 27, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: non-fiction, asia
Read from July 27 to 28, 2010

I picked this book up originally because a lot of my artist friends have had their work purchased and then copied in factories in China, among other places, and I wanted to read about this from the viewpoint of the Chinese factory worker. After reading the book, (which didn't mention much about copyright infringement and the like), I have a better understanding of WHY it happens.

Life in China as a migrant factory worker is HARD, and the only way they see to advance in life, help support their families back home on the rural farm they left, and to find a husband, is to essentially "factory hop" -- changing jobs so often it can leave the reader's head spinning.

The reason for the factory hopping is advancement, and many of the people interviewed for this book have only the bare skills (or NO skills) for the job they're applying for. Lying about what they have done in the past, purchasing fake diplomas -- all of these things are common and not even blinked at. To the factory worker, it's the only way up. When conversations start with how much a person makes and how big their apartment is, it's crucial to get to the next rung on the ladder any way they can.

I couldn't live this life. Living in the rural situations described would be horrendous, and I can see why the younger people move out. However, I'm just amazed at the things that go on to get ahead -- yet I understand it.

This is NOT to say that I condone knock-offs or stealing other people's designs and ideas. But this is a culture very different than ours, and at least now I'm left with a reason WHY.

Lori Anderson

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