Free Trade, Neoclassical Economics, and Women Workers in the Global Apparel Industry

Ellen Israel Rosen

in Making Sweatshops

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2002 | ISBN: 9780520233362
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520928572 | DOI:
Free Trade, Neoclassical Economics, and Women Workers in the Global Apparel Industry

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This chapter explores the tenets of free trade as they are now expressed by contemporary economists in what is called the neoliberal economic paradigm. It also explains why the model that economists now offer in order to make trade policy and legitimate this trade is inconsistent with the empirical realities of contemporary global apparel production. It then argues that labor markets are embedded in social, institutional, and gendered contexts. The new trade agreements have made it possible for transnational corporations to increase their control over global capital flows, foreign investment, and international trade. The trade liberalization in textiles and apparel is discussed. This trade liberalization has enhanced corporate access not merely to low-wage labor but to low-wage female labor. The economic pressures in the global apparel industry are creating incentives for increasing coercion of, and incipient violence toward, women workers.

Keywords: free trade; neoliberal economic paradigm; women workers; global apparel industry; trade policy; labor markets; trade liberalization; textiles

Chapter.  5652 words. 

Subjects: Occupations, Professions, and Work

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