Slaves to Fashion: Poverty and Abuse in the New Sweatshops

Slaves to Fashion: Poverty and Abuse in the New Sweatshops

by Robert J. S. Ross

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"A brilliant and beautiful book, the mature work of a lifetime, must reading for students of the globalization debate."
---Tom Hayden

"Slaves to Fashion is a remarkable achievement, several books in one: a gripping history of sweatshops, explaining their decline, fall, and return; a study of how the media portray them; an analysis of the fortunes of the current anti-sweatshop movement; an anatomy of the global traffic in apparel, in particular the South-South competition that sends wages and working conditions plummeting toward the bottom; and not least, a passionate declaration of faith that humanity can find a way to get its work done without sweatshops. This is engaged sociology at its most stimulating."
---Todd Gitlin

". . . unflinchingly portrays the reemergence of the sweatshop in our dog-eat-dog economy."
---Los Angeles Times

Just as Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed uncovered the plight of the working poor in America, Robert J. S. Ross's Slaves to Fashion exposes the dark side of the apparel industry and its exploited workers at home and abroad. It's both a lesson in American business history and a warning about one of the most important issues facing the global capital economy-the reappearance of the sweatshop.

Vividly detailing the decline and tragic rebirth of sweatshop conditions in the American apparel industry of the twentieth century, Ross explains the new sweatshops as a product of unregulated global capitalism and associated deregulation, union erosion, and exploitation of undocumented workers. Using historical material and economic and social data, the author shows that after a brief thirty-five years of fair practices, the U.S. apparel business has once again sunk to shameful abuse and exploitation.

Refreshingly jargon-free but documented in depth, Slaves to Fashion is the only work to estimate the size of the sweatshop problem and to systematically show its impact on apparel workers' wages. It is also unique in its analysis of the budgets and personnel used in enforcing the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Anyone who is concerned about this urgent social and economic topic and wants to go beyond the headlines should read this important and timely contribution to the rising debate on low-wage factory labor.   Robert J.S. Ross is Professor of Sociology, Clark University. He is an expert in the area of sweatshops and globalization. He is an activist academic who travels and lectures extensively and has published numerous related articles.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780472025664
Publisher: University of Michigan Press
Publication date: 02/22/2010
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 408
File size: 2 MB

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix Introduction: Sweatshops Are Where Hearts Starve 1 Part 1. The Fall and Rise of Sweatshops In the United States 7 Chapter 1. What Is a Sweatshop? 9 Appendix i. Estimating the Number of Sweatshop Workers in the United States in 2000 42 Chapter 2. Memory of Strike and Fire 52 Chapter 3. The Decline of Sweatshops in the United States 72 Chapter 4. The Era of Decency and the Return of the Sweatshop 86 Part 2. Explaining the Rise of the New Sweatshops 101 Chapter 5. Global Capitalism and the Race to the Bottom in the Production of Our Clothes 103 Chapter 6. Retail Chains: The Eight-Hundred-Pound Gorillas of the World Trade in Clothing 125 Chapter 7. Firing Guard Dogs and Hiring Foxes 147 Chapter 8. Immigrants and Imports 172 Chapter 9. Union Busting and the Global Runaway Shop 187 Chapter 10. Framing Immigrants, Humiliating Big Shots: Mass Media and the Sweatshop Issue 206 Appendix 2. Details of the Immigrant Blame Analysis 239 Conclusion to Part 2: Producing Sweatshops in the United States 243 Part 3. Movements and Policies 245 Chapter 11. Combating Sweatshops from the Grass Roots 249 Chapter 12. Solidarity North and South: Reframing International Labor Rights 284 Chapter 13. Ascending a Ladder of Effective Antisweatshop Policy 309 Chapter 14. Three Pillars of Decency 322 Personal Epilogue: Hearts Starve 335 Notes 339 References 352 Index 377

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