[NetBehaviour] Environmentalism for the Net 2.0

marc.garrett at furtherfield.org marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Wed Sep 27 13:03:36 CEST 2006

Environmentalism for the Net 2.0

By Soenke Zehle.

Happy to describe media cultures in ecological terms, net users may be
unaware of the heavy ecological cost of communications networks. But can
environmental justice and labour movements learn a trick or two from net
culture? Soenke Zehle reviews two recent books, High Tech Trash: Digital
Devices, Hidden Toxics, and Human Health and Challenging the Chip: Labor
Rights and Environmental Justice in the Global Electronics Industry

The electronics industry, one of the largest manufacturing sectors of the
global economy, is increasingly characterised by network-based models of
industrial organisation. Following the corporate vision of systemic
outsourcing, the industry has been a key driver in the general shift from
vertically-integrated, multi-national corporations to 'global flagship
networks' that integrate dispersed supply, knowledge, and customer bases.
The complexity of global production networks and their shifting supply
chains is not unique to the electronics industry. Yet compared to the wave
of no-sweat activism across the garment industry, electronics manufacturing
has seen comparatively few campaigns based on the principle of holding
brand companies accountable for the conduct and compliance of their
contractors. Two new books, one by an environmental journalist and one by a
group of activists and researchers, might change that. They survey both the
impact the electronics industry has already had on communities and workers
in the old and new centres of electronics production, and the campaigns for
economic and environmental justice that are attempting to transform the way
this industry operates.


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