Thursday, 21 April 2011

The Sweatshop Conundrum

While slavery is gone, we still face the problem of exploitation in our modern society when it comes to products. We can fight for fair working conditions and compensation in our own quarters, but in a global economy, it can be much cheaper to use less affluent societies to produce what are consumed elsewhere. If we're not willing to subject people to those working conditions in our own society, aren't we being hypocrites by consuming products made by people in such conditions?

I find the conundrum in buying such products in that I don't think there's a good answer to what we should do. We are legitimising the practice by supporting the product, but those people who work in such conditions don't do so out of a sense of self-punishment, they're in a bad enough situation that they have to work in order to survive.

Now I don't want to even suggest that it's a moral thing buy sweatshop clothing because those people need those jobs, it would be the worst pretence to even suggest something along those lines. Rather I'm trying to highlight the conundrum I see in such exploitation. While ideally the problem would be avoided by banning such products, the best way I can see to look to solving the problem is to buy fair trade products where possible.

1 comment:

Richard T said...

Slavery whilst not as widespread as it used to be still does exist. This is not including people who work is essentially slave-like conditions.

I think the best way to deal with the problem is to increase the economic options for those who are essentially forced to work for sweatshops. It doesn't immediately help the morally ambiguous goods we buy but it does aim to stop them coming to us.