University of Washington Seattle American Factory Netflix Documentary Essay

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University of Washington Seattle Campus


For this first integrative essay, you should write primarily about the ethical dilemmas (text, Ch. 5) faced by the business people encountered in the Netflix documentary American Factory.

The assignment: Complete a three-to-five page essay (1500 word count minimum).

Specifically, discuss in your essay:

  • What ethical dilemmas do the various "working people" in the documentary encounter (whether on the job or off)?
  • Give advice on how these people could or should resolve these dilemmas. (For instance, are some of these dilemmas more solvable than others?)

One approach you might take in this essay is to address the perspectives of specific individuals, or individual members of these groups (whether we see them being filmed in Ohio and/or in China):

  • the Chinese owner of the factory,
  • the Chinese managers,
  • the American managers,
  • the American workers, and
  • the Chinese workers.

(Not everyone shown in the documentary is well identified by name or even by role or title (hint: as a viewer, you sometimes know who is in management, and sometimes you don't), so you may need to talk about certain people as we see them in a certain scene, or when they appear after so many minutes from the opening scene in the documentary. Be as clear as you can in your essay about who you are referring to so the reader knows who or what you are referring to).


Use 1.5 spacing and Arial 10 font. Spell and grammar check as you normally would for any scholarly paper. Also, feel free to consult the Style Guide (on Canvas) for suggestions on style, organization, and such.

please use these to write and also watch the movie in netflix

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Explanation & Answer

Attached. Please let me know if you have any questions or need revisions.

American Factory

The documentary is about the cultural side of ethics in the workplace. The fascinating aspect of this
documentary is that it does not frame anyone as a villain; allowing us to develop a personal perspective.
There is no ideological bias depicted in the movie. It is an extraordinary quality that makes American
Factory worth all the praise that it received.
It follows the arrival of a Chinese glass manufacturing company for automobiles, Fuyao, into the state of
Ohio, USA. Chinese and American factory workers are the leading voices in the documentary, and there
is a skilful portrayal of the cultural difference between them. Both parties are on the two extreme ends of
the spectrum.
A factory worker from mainland China exhibits severe military-style discipline at work and is reluctant to
establish a labor union. On the other hand, American workers are depicted as slack at work and in conflict
with the management. The American higher-ups treat their employees empathetically. In contrast,
Chinese executives' show blatant disregard for workers' welfare.
It would be futile to judge which culture is "better"; what these people are struggling for is similar: a better
life and a brighter future for themselves and their families. While the Americans and Chinese struggle for
a better work environment, another enemy is sneaking its way into the industry. In the last scene, when
Fuyao's CEO Cao Dewang makes his monthly visit to Ohio, viewers face a depressing reality of
automation in the future. Chinese or American it does not matter; millions will be out of jobs as robots will
replace them.
The Chinese owner of the factory:

Cho Tak Wong is an intimidating presence. He appears first in the documentary where an SUV
drives on the tarmac towards a parked jet, and the chairman disembark from a private plane "The
motherland is just like a mother," he says in address to the Chinese staff. "This is eternal." they
aren't there for the money but to represent their country, he tells them: "It's down to everybody
present.". Afterwards he's on a plane, trying to figure out how to deal with labor union as
suggested by the state's senator. "I can't manage them," he complains. "When we try to handle
them, they threaten to get help from the union." In this documentary, he is faced with this
particular dilemma in his factory in Ohio.
A suitable resolution of his dilemmas would realise that capitalism will make working-class
conditions unbearable. At the end of the film, he is shown pondering to himself while kneeling at
the alter of a traditional Chinese temple "my youth was poor and undeveloped, but I knew I was
happier then… now I live in a new era of prosperity, but I have a sense of loss". He would have
done better if his only aim was not to obtain great production from his companies' profits,
ultimately translating into the luxuries it afforded him. Instead, he should focus on the
humanitarian grounds of the workforce to have efficiently running companies.

The Chinese manager:

"America is a place to be free." The manager is giving a cultural briefing for Chinese workers at
the factory in Dayton, Ohio. He said, "As long as you're not doing anything against the law, you're
free to follow your heart. You can even joke about the president. Nobody will do anything to you".
A representative of the Chinese manufacturer Fuyao tells his somewhat disbelieving
employees.The film is a ca...

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