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Threads: Gender, Labor, And Power In The Global Apparel Industry By Jane Collins

1258 words - 6 pages

Jane Collins’ book Threads: Gender, Labor, and Power in the Global Apparel Industry (2003) shows how the apparel industry developed to become labour intensive, driven by low wages and is particularly oppressive against females. The book outlines how two clothing companies, Tultex and Liz Claiborne subcontract work out to plants in Mexico. Collins suggests labour conditions in developing nations help shape new unions with both communal and women’s interests as a driving force. However in order to critically examine the strengths, weaknesses, and methodology of the book, it is necessary to have a full understanding of the author as it gives insight into any possible bias which may appear. ...view middle of the document...

This clearly shows the books target audience is not the general public.
Another weakness has to do with the age of the book and the many campaigns since it was published aimed to educate the general public about sweatshop conditions. When the book was first published in 2003 it is unknown what the general public’s knowledge base was when it came to this subject. However, eleven years later it could be said for the most part, people have some sort of understanding about the horrid conditions that our clothing is made in. That being said the book does not present any new information in regards to what is already known or has been presented to the general public.
Collins also reference’s two companies that may have been well known at the time but are no longer popular now, causing readers lose interest rather quickly. However, it should be stated that although the companies in the book are no longer relevant the some concepts apply to many corporations today.
The last weakness that will be reviewed is the rather broad presentation of the topic of industrial globalization of the apparel industry. Throughout the book Collins presents the historical development of the apparel industry in relation to Tultex and Liz Claiborne, as well as the impact of trade laws (such as NAFTA), the U.S. Tariff Code, quota regulations, and labour relations. It is also explained to readers that women are given less then subsistence wages because their incomes are seen as supplemental and therefore any amount of pay is beneficial. However, it is only in the last chapter that Collins talks about the emerging feminized unions coming from the maquiladoras. This aspect of the book seems to be the most important but is left until the end and is not fully developed in terms of its content. Collins highlights problems within the industrial apparel industry but does not offer any solutions. As previously stated the broader message of this book for the most part is already known, therefore this book is outdated and irrelevant.
The book is presented as a multisited ethnography based on four different locations: a knitting mill in Virginia, office headquarters for a large apparel corporation in New Jersey and two factories in Mexico. Collins examines changes to within the apparel industry using two methods: chain analysis and comparisons. Chain analysis traces the economic linkages between a number of different aspects such as: the factories that make the product and the stores that sell them. The purpose of this is see a chain reaction from one area of production and how it affects other aspects. The purpose of comparison is to see how production in America differs from production in Mexico in an attempt to see how...

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