The only comprehensive historical analysis of the globalization of the U.S. apparel industry, this book focuses on the reemergence of sweatshops in the United States and the growth of new ones abroad. Ellen Israel Rosen, who has spent more than a decade investigating the problems of America's domestic apparel workers, now probes the shifts in trade policy and global economics that have spawned momentous changes in the international apparel and textile trade. Making Sweatshops asks whether the process of globalization can be promoted in ways that blend industrialization and economic development in both poor and rich countries with concerns for social and economic justice—especially for the women who toil in the industry's low-wage sites around the world.
Rosen looks closely at the role trade policy has played in globalization in this industry. She traces the history of current policies toward the textile and apparel trade to cold war politics and the reconstruction of the Pacific Rim economies after World War II. Her narrative takes us through the rise of protectionism and the subsequent dismantling of trade protection during the Reagan era to the passage of NAFTA and the continued push for trade accords through the WTO. Going beyond purely economic factors, this valuable study elaborates the full historical and political context in which the globalization of textiles and apparel has taken place. Rosen takes a critical look at the promises of prosperity, both in the U.S. and in developing countries, made by advocates for the global expansion of these industries. She offers evidence to suggest that this process may inevitably create new and more extreme forms of poverty.
“Rosen provides convincing reasons for the globalization of industries in the apparel complex...an important contribution.”—Sanjay Marwah Enterprise & Society
“‘Making Sweatshops’ does for the textile industry what ‘Fast Food nation’ did for the American diet -- revealing the familiar in a totally new light.”—Taipei Times
reveals the inexorable movement towards an open trading system, the shifting alignments of actors pushing for or opposing openness, and, most centrally, how trade policy promotes the globalization of apparel production, filling a gap in our understanding of these dynamics."—Richard P. Appelbaum, coauthor of Behind the Label: Inequality in the Los Angeles Apparel Industry
"A detailed examination of the role that trade policy plays in the process of globalization. Rosen provides a meticulous historical analysis of the textile/apparel industry, one of the world's most globalized industries and one of its most hot-button issues."—Stephen Cullenberg, coauthor of Transition and Development in India
"Rosen shows how politics have always shaped the trade agenda from beginning to end, and she presents a most compelling case that if trade and the global economy are to foster justice and equality for the people of our world, we will need to rewrite the existing rules of global trade."—Charles Kernaghan, director of the National Labor Committee
"This book delves deep into the industry's trade journals, congressional testimony, newspaper accounts, and economic and political scholarship of the last fifty-five years to tell the story of U.S. trade policy and the decline of labor standards in the apparel industry. This patient and voluminous examination systematically reveals, for the first time, how the U.S. sacrificed its apparel workers on the altar, first of the anti-Communist crusade, and then of free trade ideology."—Robert J.S. Ross, PhD, Professor of Sociology and Director, International Studies Stream, Clark University
is, in part, a history of the apparel and textile industries in the U.S. and the world. But it is much more than that. It is also about power and globalization. Rosen explains how the former shapes the latter, and how workers around the world suffer because of it. Activists, policy makers, consumers--anyone interested in understanding why sweatshops exist--should read this book."—Bruce Raynor, President, Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (Unite)
"Rosen convincingly demonstrates that it is the transnational corporations rather than the consumers, and certainly rather than the workers, who benefit from trade liberalization, whose rules the lobbyists for these very coporations more or less write for supine politicians. This is a book in the great tradition of solid scholarship allied with deep commitment to the cause of global economic justice."—Leslie Sklair, author of Globalization: Capitalism and its Alternatives