From China to Mardi Gras: The Effect of a Bead

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How often does one actually consider where a product originates or under what conditions it was produced? While out shopping a consumers main focus is on obtaining the item needed or wanted not selecting merchandise based on the “made in” tag. It is common knowledge that many products are imported from other countries. However, little thought is given to the substandard conditions that workers endure to eke out a living to maintain a poverty stricken existence. In Mardi Gras: Made in China director David Redmon demonstrates the effect globalization and capitalism have on the lives of the owner and workers of a bead factory in China while contrasting the revelry of partygoers in New Orleans. Underpaid, overworked staff toil and live in an inhuman environment, exploited by a boss who demands much for little compensation while profiting greatly, to support themselves and their families. In the film the factory owner, Roger Wong, is contracted by entities outside of China, from the U.S.A., to manufacture beads for the least cost possible to maximize the greatest profit. This exchange of money for goods is an example of capitalism and global distribution. Capitalism is described by Conley (2008) as “an economic system in which resources are privately owned; investments are determined by private decisions; and prices, production, and the distribution of goods are determined primarily by competition in an unfettered marketplace.” (p.372) Wong agrees to manufacture the beads for a certain amount of money. From this amount, he determines the cost involved in the production such as material, electricity and wages that detract from profit. After these considerations, a workforce is employed. This particular factory employed predominantly... ... middle of paper ... ...t for beads that they considered ugly and worthless. On the other end, Americans fluctuated between disgust, a little guilt, outrage or ambivalence concerning the appalling work conditions and meager wages endured by Chinese workers. However, no one took off his or her beads. As long as the demand for beads during Mardi Gras continues so will the profit made by US companies selling them. Over in China Roger Wong will continue to exploit his young women employees to bolster his bottom line. Other businessmen, corporations and the wealthy few will also benefit from this same strategy used for thousands of products that are part of ones life every day. Works Cited Conley, D. (2008). You may ask yourself: an introduction to thinking like a sociologist. New York, N.Y.: W. W. Norton and Company. Redmon, D. (Director). (2010) Mardi gras: made in china [DVD].

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