As I am sitting in my apartment, packing for the wonderful long weekend away from Davis, I remembered our wonderful ASA final project. I wonder, how many people took part in the production of my jeans? It said "made in China" in bright yellow letters, but what were the conditions of the workers there? Sitting there, I realized how disgusted I was at my jeans. If felt like a contributor to the poor conditions that people in developing countries/third world country had to live with. Oh - my poor new, made in China jeans!
However, I do agree with the idea bought up by the article, "Santa's sweatshop", about " today's Third World nation can be tomorrow's developmental success" (Palmer et al 1996). As cruel and inhuman as the idea may sound, this is a cycle. It is true that the workers in these countries are not given what they rightfully deserve. By talking orders at a lower price than others, the the county will get the order. By getting the order, the country will have income. Over time, the country will establish itself in the garment industry, leading to more orders flowing into that country. The country will be able to use that money (if they don't have a corrupted government) to improve the roads, provide health care and free education, etc. Yes, it is true that developed countries have and will continue to exploit the developing country because of lower wages and poor or lack of labor laws, but if this exploitation could provide a country with financial stability and finance to develop, is exploitation a bad thing? Note: I do not believe countries should pay developing countries lower wages and have poor working conditions - the above is only stated to give an alternative viewpoint.
Who is the true contributer to exploitation? I propose it is the consumers. Consumers who aspire to be of a higher class or follow the trends set by the elite or celebrities are the worst contributers to exploitation. These consumers follow the top down theory in which they try to imitate the people of a higher class (Kawamura 78). However, their socioeconomic status may not be able to afford this form of imitation; the results: buying imitation products. This is where Forever 21 comes in and the reason why it has grown to be so big. Humans like to aspire and dream of becoming better people and people of a better class. If we can't achieve it realistically, we try to satisfy ourselves by wearing or carrying something like that. It's a way to comfort ourselves and not feel so bad. "Hey, at least I can afford Forever 21!"