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

Factory Girls by Leslie T. Chang
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Aug 10, 2011

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Read in August, 2011

Listened to this on audiobook while jogging. It was long and could've used some editing, I thought--particularly with the long sections detailing the author's ancestor's stories and history. I suppose some would find that part interesting or enlightening but I just thought it distracted from the main story in an already long book. The "main story" being the factory girls.

Now I thought the factory girl stories were really interesting. First of all, I had always pictured Chinese factory workers as submissive, abused indentured servants who had to keep quiet and just be happy to have their menial, overworked and low-paying jobs. But it was not the case, at least not with the women featured. They yelled at their bosses, quit at the drop of a hat, faked ID's to get work, faked diplomas to get work, and ambitiously elbowed their way into better positions. I was impressed.

I was also interested in (but not too surprised by) the level of corruption that goes on. Faking diplomas and ID's to get jobs is completely widespread, and as the authors and her subjects pointed out, if you don't do it too, then you are just going to lose out to those that do. Endemic lying is widespread. Nobody checks references and everybody lies about their past work.

Also kind of shocking are the fact that job ads say "for women only" or "for men only", specify minimum height requirements, and include alarming things like "No skin sensitivity." I mean, what does THAT mean?? Scary!

So I thought it was an interesting read, about a country that is quickly becoming one of the world's fastest-changing and more significant/important growing powers.

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Nils I can not figure out what the tenuous link between Chang's family history - which takes up 12% of the book - and the story about migrant workers in Dongguan is. It seems totally irrelevant and annoyed me greatly, because there are tons of books that cover that part of history and if I had wanted a lesson on the Chinese Republic and the Communist era, I would have bought one.


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