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Economic geographic approach can be used to explain the low wage and working conditions that are experienced at the bottom of commodity chains as well as the possibilities for 'development' in places where the workers at the bottom of the chains reside. Most of the bottom commodity chains like the apparel, footwear, coffee planting and textile form most of the global manufacturing industries and contributes to employment of the largest workforce as compared to other manufacturing industry in the world. For instance many of the workers are the very bottom of chain comprise of the garment workers where the production of the clothing begins.
Many of these workers are often young women as well as teenagers who are employed in the sweatshops that produce for the American retailers. Studies have revealed that an approximate eighty percent of the apparel workers that produce for the United States retailers usually work under conditions that violate both local an international labor laws. These bottom chain employees are immigrants who work for ten to twelve hours in a day, on paid overtimes, poverty wages, verbal, physical and sexual abuse, unsanitary and dangerous working conditions as well as the suppression of their rights to organizing unions that help avert such conditions.
The traditional economic discourse is held by Ehrenreich the argument that many of the difficulties that the workers at the bottom of the chain are attributed to the low paying jobs which are characterized by hidden costs involving necessities like shelter which they spend more on daily hotel costs than if they could spend if they could have security deposits. Also the hidden costs of food where the poorer workers spend more in buying food which are often unhealthier s compared if they could access refrigeration s well as other appliances needed to cook them.
In addition to that she also argues against the notion that low paying jobs are unskilled and this she argues that those who work at the bottom of the chain require a lot of stamina, memory, focus, fast learning as well as quick thinking and such actions repeated constantly leads to repetitive stress injury as they are forces to work the pain in order to continue holding a job especially in a market that is characterized with a constant turnover and days full of uninteresting and degrading tasks like toilet cleaning as well as short reordering. In addition to that some management roles serve to interfere with the worker level of productivity as they force employees to undertaking pointless task making the low wage experience more miserable.
Structural Thinking on Capitalism
As argued by Coe et al uneven developments are usually structurally built into capitalism which makes the local ,regional economies to be affected which are mainly attributed to the restructuring and the associated shifts in the type and location of investments. This as made some places as well as economic sectors to be heavily invested on while others are underinvested hence promotion of uneven development across the geo-economical landscape. Coe et al claims that economic geographers must think structurally about capitalism if they are to fully understand the processes that surround uneven development and the spatial decision of labour because of the following reasons.
First reason is that the new international division of labour is an outcome of globalization thus resulting to the occurrence of the division of labour a process that occurs when the processes of production are no longer confined to national economies. This has led trends whereby production processes are reallocated from developing countries to developing countries as companies such for the cheapest location from manufacturing and assembling of components hence low cost labour intensive parts of manufacturer process get shifted to developing countries characterized by substantially low costs. In addition to that the manufacturing process also maximizes n the transportation and the communications technology, the fragmentation and location flexibility of production. Such restructuring makes the non farm employment to be concentrated around and in the cities as the wage employment dominates the villages located further away as they revert to self subsistence. This implies that spatial division of labour especially when it concerns economic restructuring is closely related to factor to factor endowments as well as household characteristics at the local level.
Finally geographer should think structurally because in the restructuring families usually provide support to children and adults especially when it comes to issues of division of labor at homes, households and workplaces which forma parts of the larger community. Even if families don't directly produce or market any goods or service they help keep the economy running through support and maintenance of adult workers, buying and consumption of products as well as reproduction of workforce through having of babies and socialization of children and all these require labor. Therefore a lot of time and effort are put into feeding, caring and clothing for family members rivaling that spent in al other forms of work hence a home is like a combination of laundry, restaurant and hotel. All the effort put in such activities remain invisible to the people who benefit from it therefore undemanding its effects will help in restructuring of the economy.
Researchers should also be looking in to the issue of economic restructuring structurally especially as it regards to changing of labour appropriation and allocation of value, production as well as the economic organization as these factors underpin the processes of economic convergence and divergence. This structural understanding yields information concerning the role that changing division of labor across space play in the integration economies and the value between places hat underpins the mosaic of territorial inequalities. The above stated factor when understood are crucial in the understanding of the subject matter through more understanding on the production and flows of values that are associated with various forms of economic activities as well as the commodity production and exchange in different localities.