A distillation of a wide array of settings affixes sweatshops to a working environment where worker exploitation is the order of the day. Non-governmental organizations and activist groups continue to pursue…
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Due to the pressure, multinational firms have felt compelled to improve the working conditions of their companies abroad.
However, Ercel argues that even though the anti-sweatshop movement endorses an agreeable and laudable goal, its conception does not accommodate certain crucial points. Ercel argues that the concept of anti-sweatshop movements that equates exploitation to Third world countries is what leads to orientalization of exploitation; “an understanding of exploitation as a phenomenon peculiar and confined to the orient: namely, the developing countries of the Third world.” This concept, Ercel argues, regards the advanced nations as, “virtually non-exploitative economies with fair and civilized labor practices.”
Ercel argues that due to Cultural relativism, efforts to harmonize labor conditions globally will deprive western markets of cheap imports and hurt workers in developing countries instead of providing help by curtailing their comparative advantage. On humanitarian universalism, Ercel argues that even though anti-sweatshop campaigns draw its prominence from human rights discourse, achievement of global standards is inseparable from an international political economy context. He highlights how the West and developed countries use their political power and finances to sanction human rights worldwide. Ercel states that, “these rights are Western in origin, far from taking away from their Universalist appeal, should be interpreted, we are cautioned, as an uncontestable sign of the Superiority of Western institutions over their oppressive, archaic counterparts in the Third World.”
In conclusion, Ercel’s two-faced view of both the Third World and the developed nations reveals the orientalists’ sweatshop discourse constitution that ignores class antagonism. Not only do workers in Third world nations face exploitation but also in developed countries. As Ercel puts it, “the Western gaze’s enchantment with the abysmal working
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