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date: 17 January 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The globalized production systems that emerged in full force during the latter third of the twentieth century have resulted in the relocation of manufacturing to low-wage countries, hollowing out manufacturing in the high-wage countries of the Global North. This dynamic has benefitted consumers in the form of lower cost products; it has also cost jobs in high-wage countries and often resulted in harsh and sometimes fatal working conditions in the Global South. Yet at the same time, the relocation of manufacturing jobs to East Asia has resulted in the growth of a working class throughout the region. This chapter examines the changes in the world economy that have given rise to this decentralized production system, the hardships and sometimes fatal challenges it poses for workers, and businesses’ failed efforts at self-regulation. It concludes with a discussion of both consumer anti-sweatshop and workers’ struggles, and it suggests some promising signs of a way forward.

Keywords: workers’rights, sweatshops, global supply chains, corporate social responsibility, outsourcing, anti-sweatshop movement, triple bottom line, Worker Rights Consortium

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