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Nimble Fingers Reading.docx

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Sociology (Arts)
SOCI 307
Marcos Ancelovici

“Nimble Fingers Make Cheap Workers” – Elson and Pearson  Since the 1960s, women in developing countries started to work in “world market factories” – manufacturing for exports to rich countries  Important to study the role of these women, because jobs for women is seen as a way to “integrate women into the development process” o Should consider instead HOW women are integrated into the development process o Should consider these world market factories as providing new possibilities, but also new problems for the women who work in them Why have World Market Factories (WMFs) Emerged in the Third World?  WMF production: o Established/traditional technology = garments, textiles, toys, furniture, soft goods etc. o Modern technology = electrical goods and equipment  Industry characteristics in these WMFs = standardized production processes, repetitious, little modern knowledge required, highly labour intensive o This goes to show that the “modern” technology produced is far off from sophisticated technology produced in developed countries, and instead production is very assembly-like  WMFs produce on subcontract from large corporations overseas, and so are fully integrated and dependent on production process of customer firm o Although formally, this relationship is perceived as the transfer of goods across national boundaries and between two departments, consider the ease with which a WMF can find alternative buyers for its product, or alternative sources of supply of the same inputs o In general, the degree of autonomy by WMF is limited since they cannot develop new technology easily  Production relocated to third world primarily because of profit as a result of exploitation of labour o Since there are limits placed on market strategies within market competition, action needs to be taken in process of production, one of 2 ways:  Improving technology at existing locations to reduce the need for labour  Take advantage of a cheaper labour force that is also easier to control at new locations o Free trade zones set up in the third world also provided incentive to relocate production o Wages in WMFs are ten times lower than in comparable factories in developed countries, and working hours are 50% higher o This higher productivity is due to greater control over the performance of the labour force  This greater degree of control is due the lack of workers’ rights in the third world – many governments fail to enforce proper labour legislation, or labour unions
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