SWEATSHOPS: GOOD OR BAD?

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  This is an individual activity to be done out of class and handed in before class on Tuesday, November 28. Read the arguments on the opposite side of this page.  Using this information, along with the material from our classes on globalization and sweatshops, including the readings, lectures and videos, please discuss and answer the following questions: SHOULD WE, AS CITIZENS AND CONSUMERS OF A RELATIVELY AFFLUENT COUNTRY, BE CONCERNED ABOUT SWEATSHOP CONDITIONS AROUND THE WORLD? IF YES, WHY AND WHAT SHOULD WE DO ABOUT THESE CONDITIONS??  IF NO, WHY SHOULD WE NOT BE CONCERNED?   There  is not a “right” answer to these questions.  However, as university  students and critical thinkers you should be able to provide  substantive, clear, and well-reasoned arguments to support any position  you take on an important issue of this kind.  Answering this question  should not require any additional information beyond what is provided on the opposite page, what we have discussed in class, and the readings assigned for this part of the course.  Your  answer will be based on how well you argue your arguments and use the  information you have learned to support that argument. Your answer should be approximately 2 double-spaced pages. Your paper should be handed in via Canvas Dropbox by Tuesday, November 28at 11:59PM.  Please be sure to include your name on the paper.  Late papers will not be accepted. A  sweatshop is a place where a worker usually works very long hours and  gets paid a very minimal wage, often simply a survival income, if even.  Work in these places is often under hazardous conditions or performed by  children. Exploitation: • Anti: The  first argument advanced by anti-sweatshop advocates is that the  multinationals that produce their goods in sweatshops are exploiting the  workers (Ross, 2004). They argue that these practices are abusive.• Anti: No respect for Human Rights or Human dignity. (Arnold & Bowie, 2003)• Pro: Others,  like Paul Krugman, an American economist, argue, “Bad jobs at bad wages  are better than no jobs at all.” They point out that these jobs are the  better alternative that people have (Elliott & Freeman, 2001). Wages: • Anti: The workers are being paid way too low wages. These wages are not sufficient for a decent living.• Anti: an  incredibly low percentage of the final product goes to the worker who  produced it. These items, such as a pair of shoes or a pair of jeans are  worth more money than the entire salary of a worker for a full month of  intensive work.• Pro: Responding to that, pro-sweatshop argue that  even these very low wages can make a great difference in people’s  lives. “Still, for an impoverished Indonesian or Bangladeshi woman with a  handful of kids who would otherwise drop out of school and risk dying  of mundane diseases like diarrhea, $1 or $2 a day can be a  life-transforming wage.” (Kristof & Dunn, 2010)• Pro: Furthermore, they argue that in these places, the multinationals pays more than the local factories (Powell & Skarbek, 2006). Free-workers: • Pro: Sweatshops  do not seem to have troubles finding employees. The people working in  sweatshops are free people, and (in most cases, although forced labour still exists) make the deliberate choice to go work in a sweatshop (Miller, 2003). The workers choose sweatshop jobs because these are the best jobs that are available to them (Elliott & Freeman, 2001).• Anti: These people working in sweatshops did not freely choose to work in such places. Rather, they are coerced by economic needs (Miller, 2003).   In the anti-sweatshop movement, activists and other members argue that  these people have no choice but to work in a sweatshop because society  offers nothing better for them. When something is done out of a last  resort drive for survival, this act can by no means considered a free  and deliberate act. “Economic unfredom, in the form of extreme poverty, can make a person helplessly prey in the violation of other kinds of freedom.” (Sen A. , 1999) 

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