Today many American’s are concerned over the issue of working conditions and sweatshops, yet these harsh issues still cease to exist. The picture above is a display of two cartoon characters talking about the issues of sweatshops. If clothes are not made from sweatshops then where are they made from? This is significant because many Americans do not know where the products they consume come from.
In the class readings, “a U.S. News poll shows that 6 in 10 Americans are concerned about working conditions under which products are made in the United States and more than 9 in 10 are concerned about the working conditions under which products are made in Asia and Latin America. But few consumers possess enough information to make informed buying decisions. (Holistien, 169). Could consumer blindness be because of invisibility? In the article “Making the Invisible Visible,” Su talks about the exploitation of Thai workers in the garment industry of El Monte and the media’s role in creating visibility and awareness to theses kinds of issues. On August 2, 1995, 71 Thai garment workers were discovered in the suburb of El Monte. They were found living in a barbed wire apartment and forced to work in harsh conditions. Many of these workers were forced to work in eighteen hours shifts with no benefits, health care, or agency. After media news coverage, this helped shed light on many of the Thai garment workers because as the news aired, the public felt much sympathy because the Thai workers were working in slave conditions. As a result, the media is a powerful tool by making people more aware of the issue of working conditions and sweatshops. With the media, people can be more informed about buying decisions and where products are made.
Overall, in order to understand the continued prevalence of sweatshops, and the role they play both in our lives and in our economies we must examine the process by which clothes are made and then sold on to us as consumers.
Holstein, Palmer, Ur-Rehman and Ito. “Santa’s Sweatshop: In a Global Economy, it’s Hard to Know Who Made Your Gift—and Under What Conditions.” Class Reader.