Globalization

What it is

  • “a process through which finance, investment, production, and marketing are increasingly dominated by agents (corporate entities) whose vision and actions are not confined by national borders or national interests.”
  • Maquiladoras / maquilas –  Factories operating in third world countries where labor and production costs are cheaper; goods are typically produced or assembled for export to first world countries.  The term maquilas originated in the early 70s specifically about such factories along the U.S./Mexico border (where the factories were south of the border, but management was literally just across the border) but are now often used to refer to similar factories around the world.  Also referred to as offshore production.
  • Maquila workers – Overwhelmingly female, ages 16-21, but some difference by region.  Why?

Why overseas?

  • The role of government
  • Export Processing Zone – A geographic area, usually in a third world country, designated as a “protected” site for large international companies to hire workers, assemble or manufacture products, without paying the usual local and governmental tariffs and fees.  EPZs are used by poor governments to attract foreign investors, often at the expense of local labor regulations.
  • Subcontracting – A procedure by which international corporations hire local companies in other countries to produce or assemble a particular product for export.  By subcontracting, the larger company avoids direct responsibility for labor and working conditions of those workers making its product. [NOT just a global phenomenon]
  • The illusion of “stable” government —Aminul Islam

The extent of globalization

  • International Monetary Fund (IMF) – International first-world organization that makes loans of capital to third-world countries for “development”
  • Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) – A financial austerity program imposed by the IMF on those countries getting development loans.  SAP programs typically mandate that countries reduce social spending in favor of corporate investment.
  • N. American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) –  A cross-government initiative allowing for the “free trade” of corporate bodies across national borders.
  • WTO – World Trade Organization –

The workers’ perspectives

  • Agency – The idea that human beings always have thoughtful and creative potential for change; that structural factors do not always dictate how people will respond.  In this case, we need to think about why workers choose to participate in the globalization process, what they gain, what they risk, and why.  How have workers responded? How have they initiated change in these different situations?

What’s the problem?

  • Alternatives: Muhammed Yunus and the Grameen Bank
  • Are your hands clean?

Leave a Reply