Inequality In Retail Sector Essay

2911 words - 12 pages

In the contemporary world, there still is a high degree of social inequality which exists and continues to perpetuate within the society. The presence of inequality can affect and harm majority of the people. Christine Williams's novel Inside Toyland: Working, Shopping, and Social Inequality focuses on the inequalities that occurs in the two toy stores, Diamond Toys and Toy Warehouse, where she was employed. The method she used in examining the presence of inequality is effective since she actually worked in the toy stores for six weeks in order to get the first hand experience and observe inequality in the workplace. This essay will focus on the workplace culture and the working conditions employees had to deal with by working for a company that practices minimum wage pays, few or no benefits, and a harsh working condition. I will argue that working and shopping in retail stores like toy stores promotes and perpetuates social inequality in many various ways. For workers, the inequality is experienced through the job segregation, organizational hierarchies, and stereotypes on gender and race. For shoppers, inequalities are also felt through the superior and VIP treatment given to white female in comparison to the other visible minorities.Retail stores are rapidly growing industry that employs over 22.5 million workers. (Williams, 2006:48) With the large percentage of people working in retail stores, I strongly believe that the working conditions and workplace culture must be transform to better the lives of many millions. Working in a retail store today demands much from the workers. The contemporary working conditions are very much different as it was in the past. Today workers are pressured to work with flexibility, insecurity, accept minimum benefits and wage pay, and harsh working conditions. Moreover, they are also required to resist union, which means they are expected to strip off the protection and human rights they are entitled for. In short, workers are employed in "bad jobs" or better known as "precarious work". Precarious work is a term used to describe non-standard employment which is poorly paid, insecure, unprotected, and cannot support a household. (Vosko, 2006: 3) .The experience of the author working in two different toy stores, Diamond Toys and Toy Warehouse had many similarities and differences. In Diamond Toys, the consumers are highly prestigious who choose to buy from the store because of its status image they get even if the toys were identical with Toy Warehouse. The workers in Diamond Toys are comprised of whites with only three African American workers. Does this imply the presence of inequality when hiring? I would argue that the company practices discrimination in hiring visible minorities. One reason that can explain this is through the stereotypes associated with ethnicities of workers. For instance, white workers are associated with intelligence, professionals, and knowledgeable. While the visible minorities such...

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