VIEWS: 10 PAGES: 6 POSTED ON: 9/12/2011
Today’s class In exploring contemporary macro forces that shape families, we are gong to begin by looking at what is occurring globally that might shape our experiences with family. Next week, we will look at how these themes play out in the United States specifically. We live in a world that is increasingly globalized. I know that this comes to no surprise to students in this class, as folks in California are generally aware either through their own experience or the experiences of friends and family, that many of our families straddle different, sometimes multiple borders. So, today, we are going to look at some of the historical processes that have shaped the realities we all live with today, and then we are going to talk with Angelica and Rosemary to understand how these processes have affected their family’s lives. Finally we are going to watch a film, Made in L.A. The goal of the panel discussion and of the film is to understand how these seemingly complex and abstract process of globalization plays out in our own lives. Background information on Economy as an institution: Economy is the social institution that organizes the distribution of goods and services. Goods and services are an important part of the way humans organize themselves collectively and of how we identify ourselves as individuals. The work we do is an important part of identity, just as the goods and services we consume. - In this class, we will learn to think about the macro elements of economy and micro elements of economy, as we talk about how larger economic forces shape families and how families are economic units in and of themselves. Capitalism (or the free market economic system) is an economic system where the capital (raw materials, goods, and means of production) are privately owned. Capitalism is driven by three goals: 1) Individual success in terms of monetary profit. (rather than communal success based on varying kinds of profit - health, access to food and water, shelter for everyone, etc) 2) Private property ownership (rather than collective property ownership) 3) Competition – According to Adam Smith, the father of the free-market system, the market does not need to be regulated by laws and regulations, as a market based on competition will regulate itself. He called this the “invisible hand.” This model relies on the idea of a “laissez-faire” governing structure, where the government would not intervene in the market. When Adam Smith was theorizing capitalism and the free market economy, he did not factor one very important component in to the equation. We live in an economy that is dominated by corporations, corporations that are part of large monopolies. We are living in an economic structure that could more accurately be described as Monopolistic Capitalism. What is a monopoly? A shared monopoly is when 4 or fewer firms supply 50% or more of a particular market. So when we talk about the “Free Market” and when we hear economists, etc say that the free market will help to keep prices low, will help reduce the unemployment rate, etc. we have to remember that all of this is occurring in an economy that is dominated by some big corporations, and not by several smaller enterprises. In order to understand how we have gotten to the place we Globalization Exercise Lecture Notes for Work in the US - Global Connections Colonialism The current inequalities between countries are a result of historical circumstances. Colonization plays a huge role in the current socioeconomic arrangements in the world. 70% of the world's population lived in colonies in 1914. Colonialism leaves legacies – legal and political institutions, cultural devastation, psychological dimensions (internalized racism), destruction of localized economy. Colonies extracted raw resources from the countries – which were sent to colonizing countries for consumption. NeoColonialism - All former colonies have gained independence. - Since independence, new countries have been under pressure to improve the living conditions that were created under colonialism. - This results in decolonized countries borrowing capital to finance “development”. - There are still connections between the colonizing countries and colonized countries. These connections replicate and reproduce ongoing inequalities between countries. - firms that were established and in operation since colonial times - transnational corporations - loans from governments and banks of the global North. - Many business and political elites were educated at prestigious institutions in colonizers countries External Debt and Loan Repayment - External debt is created when countries pay more for imports than exports. They have to make up this debt. One way countries try to balance their debt is by selling goods and services that richer countries want. For example: o Selling raw materials, cash crops, illegal drugs and drug producing crops, and weapons. o Countries might also earn foreign exchange by encouraging their citizens to work abroad in exchange programs – contstruction, nursing, or mail-order brides. We see how this plays out in the lives of Filipina families in the reading “The Care Crisis in the Philippines.” o Leasing land for military bases, trash dumps o Tourist activities such beaches and sex trade. - SAPS – In addition to making changes in the production of goods and services, debtor countries are often forced to agree to structural adjustment programs (SAPS) as conditions by which they can accept a loan. - These SAPS are conditions set by the IMF and the World Bank, and they are structured by ideas about what makes an economy profitable. Leaders of these institutions tend to think that Free Market Capitalism is the most advantageous economic system, and thus if countries want loans from these organizations they are required to structurally adjust their economies to rely more on the free market. - What are some examples of the kinds of changes that occur under Structural Adjustment programs? How do these policies (SAPs and repayment of external debt) affect families? - when we cut healthcare and social services, the people that end up taking up the responsibility for childcare, health, and family well-being are women. - Cuts in food subsidies and the devaluation of local currencies have decreased women’s wages and increased prices(which are already lower than men’s) - Women around the world are generally responsible for “substinece agriculture” or growing to feed your family. The emphasis on cash crops has devastated the smaller scale agriculture that is so important. Transnational Corporations In addition to colonialism, neocolonialism, and the free market ideology on families, we have to look at the role transnational corporation play in impacting families globally. Corporations are caught up in and helped create the current global economy. Primarily they are shaped by and have shaped the practice of free market capitalism. Why do we see more companies going global? - Export Processing Zones (EPZs) are established in many countries, where products are manufactured for consumption in the wealthier countries in the world. - EPZs are generally created by countries, under structural adjustment, and they have relaxed labor and environmental regulations within those zones. This is all under the guise of attracting corporations to encourage “development.” - These locations offer mobility to corporations. - Profits are higher – production costs are lower. - As semi-skilled or un-skilled work is being located internationally, working- class and middle-class in the US is deteriorating. Because corporations are profit seeking, and because they enter Export Processing Zones and/or countries where regulations are minimized, what are some of the costs that are going to be cut? - Workers Wages - Safety Measures - Environmental Standards What is the relationship between corporations and the political elite in the developed and developing world? - Corporations heavily influence the world’s economy. - Corporations will interfere with the internal affairs of other countries in order to protect their business interests – i.e, investments and profit margins. The large economic institutions that regulate the worlds loan and debt are driven by a capitalist ideology. So they are going to enforce capitalist economic policies on countries that need to borrow money. The policies established by the IMF and the World Bank are the reasons that many low income countries have had to open up their borders to transnational corporations. A note on these Global financing and governing institutions: World Bank – headquarters are in Washington DC. Funds infrastructure and agricultural development. The banks investors are wealthy countries, they earn money off of the interest. Voting power in the WB is assigned depending on how much money your country invests. Wealthy countries have disproportionate voting power. IMF – Formed at the same time as the WB. Funds loans for “development projects” and sever times of budget crisis. To receive a loan – must accept a range of conditions – SAPS – and they must emphasize export earnings. GATT – read more…in 1994, corporations made a power grab, and passed rules concerning the lowering of tarriffs. WTO is the governing body of GATT. WTO board is unelected; member nations have no input into the selection process. WTO takes into allows other countries to challenge countries laws that might be in violation of GATT. Cases are decided by a panel of 3 trade experts. WTO decisions are binding and unappealable. How do transnational corporations impact families? - It is particularly easy for smaller scale manufacturers to pick up and leave than for steel or automobile manufacturers. The former of which are jobs primarily held by women, and the latter of which by men. This leaves women workers around the world in a vulnerable position. As women are leading families as single parents in higher numbers than ever before, this leaves families in vulnerable positions. - If a manufacturing job picks up and leaves, what other type of work will be available to a woman who has moved to the city (from a rural setting) without familial or social support? A Note on China- - Independent trade unions are banned in China. What is a sweatshop? - Non-payment of minimum or overtime wages, violation of health and safety regulations, multiple violations of law. - Employers that fail to pay a living wage, that affords a decent living for the people that work for the factory – where they can afford housing and healthcare (or are provided healthcare). Garment Work in the United States - This is a very risky enterprise, as fashion tastes change so quickly. - The US consumes way more clothing than the rest of the world, with tastes changing rapidly. - clothing manufacturers need to be able to get a fast turn around on their product, so manufacturing in the US or near the US is ideal. - Because of the volatility of the market, jobs in clothing manufacturing are very unstable. Garment work in the LA - LA has more manufacturing jobs than any other city in the US. - 1/5 manufacturing jobs in LA are in apparel - In all other sectors of manufacturing in the US, we have seen a decline in jobs, but in LA, manufacturing jobs have increased. - Why LA? o The city, with Hollywood right here, is a center for fashion and design. So Cal represents a way of life that is idealized in TV, Movies, and music and people want to be able to buy that “way of life”. o Most apparel manufacturing in LA is in women’s wear. o What is the labor pool in LA – we have a lot of immigrants, from Mexico and Asia. Immigrants have historically offered a cheap labor pool in this country o Immigrants both run the shops and are the workers in the shops.