In her book. The Travels of a T-shirt in the Global Economy. Pietra Rivoli takes on the elaboratenesss and complexnesss of trade and globalisation through following the way of a T-Shirt she purchased from Walgreens for $ 5. 99. It is a really enlightening book and her authorship is such that the reader is left experiencing both good informed on the issues discussed. every bit good as entertained.
Rivoli breaks up the book into 4 subdivisions. In Part I. “King Cotton. ” we are brought to an country in West Texas. an country that boasts to be place to much of the world’s cotton. In fact. the chief metropolis. Lubbock. calls itself the “cottonest city” in the universe ( Rivoli 3 ) . Cotton. it would look. has a really seamy yesteryear. “The universes first mills were cotton fabric factories” ( Rivoli 9 ) . and these came approximately during the Industrial Revolution in England. Demand increased so much during this clip that it became necessary for Britain to look elsewhere for its cotton.
The victor here was the American South. But based on the graph on page 10. the American South did non truly get down to trump its competition until approximately 1821. Possibly the existent cause for the American successes was the fact that cotton production relied to a great extent on slave labour. Slavery. sharecropping. and factory agriculture were how husbandmans were able to cut down the hazard of competition and labour deficits during crop season. As Rivoli says on page 24. success depended upon avoiding—not viing in—the labour market.
Following. we learn about how engineering progresss and mechanisation has eventually solved the labour jobs. and about the policies and subsidies that finally led to America holding the top topographic point in cotton production—from the Agricultural Adjustment Act of the 30’s to the subsidies of the Farm Bill of the early 2000’s.
In Part II of the book. “Made in China. ” Rivoli goes on to discourse what happens to the cotton after it leaves Texas. and later. the United States. Its finish: China. As she weaves the narrative of her Jersey from mill to mill. what I think she is truly seeking to foreground here is the narrative of the sweatshop. its workers. and what she refers to as “the long race to the underside. ”
From what I gathered here. a major constituent in the race to the underside. historically. has been a excess of labour. The race to the bottom needs its labour excess to be willing to work in the type of environment that perspiration store mills foster: long hours. tiring humdrum work. low rewards. limited benefits. Every cloud has a Ag liner. nevertheless. as subsequently on in Part 2. Rivoli points out that possibly losing the race to the underside. and being the current underside. isn’t the worst thing: The states that have lost the race to the underside are some of the most advanced economic systems in the universe today. but they portion a common heritage in the cotton factory and the sweatshop as the ignition switch for the urbanisation. industrialisation. and economic variegation that followed ( 99 ) .
Other of import facets of this subdivision is that working in the sweatshops frequently afforded new freedoms to the mill workers. such as being able to go forth place. flight planned matrimonies. purchase their ain stylish apparels. and most significantly. get away the harsh and hard life of working on the farm. Through an history of a adult female from 1800s Britain. Rivoli shows us that the option to factory life was considered much more hard. and by and large less appealing. She besides gives thanks to militants for their portion in the race to the underside. stating that the “generations of activists—today’s included—have changed the regulations of the race and raised the underside. doing it a much better topographic point than it used to be” ( 101 ) .
In Part III. “Trouble at the Border. ” we meet the T-shirt dorsum on U. S. dirt as it prepares to reenter the state. This chapter truly dives deep into the issues with “free trade” agendas from the American side of things. How we set quotas on incoming dress. the likes of which got highly complex. I think this subdivision truly high spots trade inequalities that resulted from globalisation. I think it besides works to undo the impressions that China was stealing off all our occupations in the dress sphere. because despite the complex protectionist steps taken. America still lost tonss of occupations in the fabric industry.
The writer points out that this is because of engineering. and that when it truly comes down to it. China is losing their fabric occupations at a rate faster than the U. S. did ( 142 ) . She besides goes over some of the unintended effects of the steps such as increased stuff costs as a consequence of the increased import barrier ( 142 ) . She besides suggests in this subdivision as an option to raising trade barriers. to alternatively counterbalance workers of the losing industries. known as the compensation rule ( 151 ) . Last. with the lift of the steps and quotas by 2005. there will be a new rush in Chinese goods to America. as illustrated in figure 9. 1. page 167. China’s per centum addition after release from the quotas will mensurate some 900 % .
Finally is Part IV of the book. “My T-shirt Finally Encounters a Free Market. ” This subdivision deals with what happens to the apparels after they are discarded. normally through contribution to Goodwill or The Salvation Army. In fact. American contributions to these sorts of organisations have increased so much that they have begun exporting the recycled vesture. “nearly 7 billion pounds” ( Rivoli 176 ) . to other states. The recycled industry has really created occupations in Africa as America’s old apparels are regarded as highly valuable. She ends with a elaborate history of how her jersey will now go from the U. S. to Africa.
The book does a truly good occupation taking a diplomatic attack to globalisation. For that ground. it does non truly stress as much a distinct victor and also-ran. as many other Hagiographas seem to make. For illustration. in Richard Florida’s Who’s Your City? . he makes it really clear that “today’s planetary economic system is powered by a surprisingly little figure of places” ( 19 ) . So while Rivoli thinks that even if it’s at the underside where you start. it’s at least someplace. you can see that Florida does non needfully portion this point of position. He see’s the universe as now comprised of extremums and vales. Those at the underside would conceivably be in the vale. This makes it hard to link with those in the extremums since the “people in peaky topographic points are frequently more affiliated to each other” ( Florida 32 ) . Florida calls this the “peak-to-peak connectivity.
Besides. while utilizing her jersey. a common mundane point that we can all associate to. as her illustration. Rivoli sets us up with a position that globalisation is basically a timeline. In For Space. by Doreen Massey. nevertheless. we get a different point of position. She believes that it is non to anyone’s benefit to “fail to acknowledge the multiplicities of the spatial” facets of globalisation ( 83 ) . She goes on to state that it is unsafe to conceive of globalisation as distributing from beginnings of economic power and wealth “across a inactive surface of space” ( 83 ) .
I think this is a really interesting point that is missed in T-shirt. Everything kind of emanates from these human dynamos in the book ; first Britain. so the Unites States. and now eventually. China. There is one thing that the two seem to portion in sentiment though. and that is that frequently times. “free trade” seems to be anything but free: “a free trade understanding should do it easier. non harder. to trade” ( Rivoli 120 ) . and “the claim to liberate mobility…by the universes hapless is rejected out of hand” ( Massey 87 ) . What the two are acquiring at here is that frequently. because free trade has really become so convoluted. it is non at all profiting the universes hapless or lifting categories. and in fact. could function to maintain them down.
Over all. I enjoyed T-shirt. and would urge it to anyone desiring a really accessible and accessible return on globalisation and universe trade. I think that if I had one ailment. it would be that Rivoli seems to truly wander/ramble in certain subdivisions. The inside informations get to be about to much. and I know that this is a really complicated subject. possibly redacting down some of the inordinate parts. such as in the chapters “Sisters in Time” and “Dogs Snaping Together. ” where sometimes the information gets rather insistent. I think that a batch of what was in the chapter “The Long Race to the Bottom” covered the whole mill and sweatshop issues and how it is better than the alternate. etc. that was recovered in “Sisters in Time. ” for illustration. Possibly these two countries could hold been merged together. Besides. the same thing happens in the following subdivision where “Dogs” covers so much policy material that merely kind of gets repeated in the following chapter “Perverse Effectss and Unintended Consequences. ” Otherwise. a antic and really enlightening book!
Florida. Richard. Who’s Your City? New York: Basic Books. 2008. Print. Massey. Doreen. For Space. London: SAGE Publications Ltd. 2005. Print. Rivoli. Pietra. The Travels of a T-shirt in the Global Economy. Hoboken:
John Wiley & A ; Sons. 2005. Print.