1.2.7 In praise of cheap offshore labour?

Claims over the benefits of globalisation and the exploitation of cheap offshore labour generate strong feelings and, not surprisingly, divide opinion between those who favour the global marketplace and its detractors. The issue turns on whether the constant search for ever-cheaper manufacturing and service locations is seen as a good or a bad thing. It may appear odd, at first, to suggest that exploiting the poor of another country can, on any measure, be regarded as a good thing, but
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1.1.1 Introduction

Many of the smaller branded goods on sale to consumers in Europe and North America – the latest in clothing and footwear or the smart toys and electronic gadgets on offer – are made in factory ‘sweatshops’. Found in the backstreets of modern, Western cities, but more often than not a feature of the poorer parts of the world, factory sweatshops are an integral part of today's global economy. Increasingly, as you can see from Author(s): No creator set

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit you should be able to:

  • explain the main characteristics of ‘sweatshops’, and their presence in today's system of globalised production;

  • set out the arguments for and against overseas sweatshop exploitation;

  • consider how far the consumption of cheap branded goods makes consumers responsible for the conditions under which they are made;

  • show how consumers are distanced from overseas sweatshop exploita
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Introduction

Sweatshops and the exploitation of workers are often linked to the globalised production of ‘big brand’ labels. This unit examines how campaigners have successfully closed the distance between the brands and the sweatshops, while others argue that such production ‘kick starts’ economies into growth benefiting whole communities.

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Acknowledgements

Except for third party materials and otherwise stated (see terms and conditions), this content is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Licence

The material acknowledged below is contained in: Ordering the International: History, Change and Transformation (eds William B
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References

Beetham, D. (1999) Democracy and Human Rights, Cambridge, Polity Press.
Brown, C. (2001) ‘Human rights’ in Baylis, J. and Smith, S. (eds) The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
Caney, S.(2001) ‘International distributive justice’ Political Studies, vol. 49, pp. 9
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