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Travels Of A T-Shirt In The Global Economy Essay Papers


UFPPC ( — Digging Deeper CIX January 11,2010, 7:00 p.m.

Pietra Rivoli,

The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power, and Politics of World Trade

(Hoboken, NY: John Wiley & Sons, 2005).



A deep exploration of the T-shirt industry shows that while theproclamations of anti-globalizationprotestors are often simplistic, there issubstance to many of their concerns anda great need for their continuedactivities. Subsidiary theme: Because of powerful divergent interests, "numbinglycomplex trade policy outcomes" (158)have characterized the textile andapparel industry.]


Inspired by witnessing an anti-globalization campus protest, Rivoli'sinquiry into the story behind her T-shirtled her to a more nuanced view of globalization; she agrees with PeterDougherty that "markets depend for theirvery survival on various forms of thebacklash" to them (xv; xi-xvi).


"My T-shirt," bought for$5.99 in Fort Lauderdale, manufacturedby Sherry Manufacturing of Miami, from ashirt made by Shanghai Knitwear from Texas cotton (xvii-xxi).


While the U.S. dominance of thecotton industry cannot be entirelyexplained from government subsidies,"[f]or 200 years, U.S. farmers have had inplace an evolving set of public policiesthat allow them to mitigate the importantcompetitive risks inherent in the businessof growing and selling cotton" (7; 3-8).

Ch. 2: The History of AmericanCotton: Winning by Ducking theLabor Markets.

The first such policywas slavery (11-15). Eli Whitney's cottongin (15-17). Other countries lacked theproperty rights and incentive structuresneeded to respond to the spectaculargrowth in demand for cotton (17-19).When slavery ended, sharecroppingensured a labor supply (19-22). In Texasand Oklahoma, the company town servedthe same function (22-24).

Ch. 3: Back at the Reinsch Farm: AllGod's Dangers Ain't the Subsidies.

West Texas cotton embraced tractorsfrom the mid-1920s on (25-30). TheBracero program, the product of politicalinfluence, enabled cotton farmers toavoid competitive markets" (31; 30-32).In the early 1930s the New Deal'sAgricultural Adjustment Act introducedprice supports (32-34). Mechanicalcotton picking, and later defoliants,arrived, with the help of government-sponsored research, after WWII (34-38).USDA and university scientistsmechanized other jobs away (39-40).Gin co-ops (40-41). Byproducts (e.g.cottonseed oil) (41-46). Business modelsto market cotton (46-48). U.S. lawprovides protection against every"virtually every business risk," includingsubsidies (49-52). The American cottonfarmer "is embedded in a system thatprotects and enriches him, cottonfarmers in West Africa are embedded in asystem that exposes and impoverishesthem" (54; 52-57).

PART II: MADE IN CHINACh. 4: Cotton Comes to China.

Shanghai and Lubbock, so different, havebeen linked by cotton for over a century(61-64). State-owned Shanghai Number

The Travels Of A T Shirt In The Global Economy Critical Question Reflection

International trade and globalization were definitely key components that were addressed throughout the book. Rivoli does a great job in painting a macro scale picture for readers to analyze these ideals through her story. At the same time, she does a great job describing details about the political structures that each country represents and how it affects the travels of the T-shirt. She does not only emphasizes on economic growth and the advantages of the facility under which the T-shirt was developed and managed, but also focuses on relationships and essential cultural factors along the way.
Unfortunately, I tend to take a different approach and even disagree on the “greatness” of globalization and its components. Rivoli does not go in depth into the real repercussions or side effects of globalization. Many economists tend to focus on the increase on profit margins, the creation of jobs through outsourcing and overall the urge for seeking creative ways to maximize revenue overlooks social issues and problems that are caused in developing countries.
For example, Thomas Friedman and American journalist and economist explains in his book, The World Is Flat, that globalization has allowed all nations around the globe to compete on a now flat and leveled playing field. Just like Rivoli suggest in her book, competition and innovativeness are important, but what happens when globalization impacts the nations involved in a unfair way? Friedman uses ten different “flatteners” to describe what has made the concepts found on The Travels of a T-shirt in a Global Economy possible and argues that these factors are positive and beneficial. He would argue that all of those stops the T-shirt made along the way in different nations benefited that nation in one way or another. But I refuse to believe that these ideals are actually beneficial to everybody.
Many, when reading Friedman’s or Rivoli’s approach to globalization, forget that there is always a parallel effect to every single movement within the global economy. Yes, these globalization factors and the concepts that Rivoli talks about have impacted everyone globally, but my question is: have they impacted everyone in a positive and constructive manner? I do not pretend to know the answers on a country-by-country basis, but I do intent to use El Salvador as a representative of those countries of the third world, as an example of what really happens on the other side of the T-shirt making process.
El Salvador is a Central American country with a population of approximately 6.3 million. This country, as many other countries from the third world, has been constantly involved in many different movements that attempted to jump start the economy by a wise/ intelligent use of globalization. Similar to several countries in the developing world, El Salvador follows the U.S behavior closely, and constantly seeks the incorporation of good practices into their political and economic traditions. However, this small...

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