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Rules without RightsLand, Labor, and Private Authority in the Global Economy$
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Tim Bartley

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198794332

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198794332.001.0001

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Beneath Compliance

Beneath Compliance

Corporate Social Responsibility and Labor Standards in China

(p.163) 5 Beneath Compliance
Rules without Rights

Tim Bartley

Oxford University Press

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.

Keywords:   China, migrant workers, corporate social responsibility, codes of conduct, auditing, wages, freedom of association, SA8000, Fair Labor Association, human resource management

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