Academic journal article Electronic Green Journal

Review: Challenging the Chip: Labor Rights and Environmental Justice in the Global Electronics Industry

Academic journal article Electronic Green Journal

Review: Challenging the Chip: Labor Rights and Environmental Justice in the Global Electronics Industry

Article excerpt

Smith, Ted, David A. Sonnenfeld, and David Naguib Pellow, (Eds.) Challenging the Chip: Labor Rights and Environmental Justice in the Global Electronics Industry. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2006. 357 pp. ISBN: 1-59213- 330-4 (paperback).

The influence of electronic technology on the lives of humans today is profound and the economic successes of the global electronics industry are no doubt impressive. The global capitalist system has for the last century become almost entirely dependent on information and data processing technologies, adding to the powerful position this industry has in the broader global economy. But, despite the industry's economic prowess, high-tech comes at a high-cost. This book sets in relief the "industry's overall footprint," showing how personal computers, cell phones, iPods, and calculators are gadgets of high-tech modernity with social and environmental consequences. The high-tech industry is in fact polluting the environment, it is guilty of numerous environmental injustices, and workers in the industry are speaking out about labor rights and health concerns.

Challenging the Chip explores not only "the globalization of the electronics supply chain (from components to subassembly, to final assembly and testing, etc.) and product life cycle (from manufacturing, to sales and marketing, to consumption, to obsolescence and waste recycling/disposal/processing)" (p.9), but also the globalization of advocacy networks and the broader contentious politics emerging as a result of electronics. Moreover, the book brings political debate to the chip industry. As contentious politics multiply over the environmental and health consequences of electronics, there is an increasing need to understand the relationship between high-tech and environmental and labor politics. In this timely and wide-ranging volume, the contributing authors-33 in total-provide insightful case studies showing how the politics of the risk society, corporate power, social movements, labor rights, health, and environmental justice are topics to engage in order to make electronics an industry built on commitments to sustainability and justice.

Challenging the Chip discusses a variety of issues at local and global scales, including, but not limited to, occupational and public health, gender and migration, corporate responsibility, grassroots politics and mobilization tactics, immigrant worker politics, unionization, electronic waste management and ethics, global environmental policy and regulation, and producer responsibility and electronics recycling. …

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