9to5musings

Muses about everything from MECM20003 to hipster glasses and hot chocolate

The ugly underbelly of consumer culture

Does anyone recall the Nike sweatshop scandal, whereby it was unveiled that those spanking branded new shoes were made by underpaid, overworked workers under harsh and unethical conditions?

Those pair of shoes on your feet may have been made by female workers, earning 50 cents an hour, and having to endure slaps on the face and harsh verbal slurs.

The Nike sweatshop scandal caused a major brouhaha. Several major advocacy groups have since been trying to campaign for fairer rights for these workers. Just google Nike sweatshops and you’d come up with 515, 000+ results.

The ugly nature of consumer culture is visible anywhere on the internet. All you have to do is look. So why, then, are we so apathetic to such outraegeous human abuse? Why are we willing to close one eye and pretend these sweatshops never exist, whilst travelling to places on those Nike shoes?


As consumers, our ignorance towards these products, and the labor processes behind them, is not unwarranted. Commodity culture requires that they processes remain mystified, such that we only see the product and never witness the labor that is poured into it.

After all, Nike wouldn’t be advertising and announcing its exploitation of young workers, for an appalling wage, under inhumane conditions, would it?

If anything, consumer culture relies heavily on this fetishism of the commodity to survive.
But as consumers, what I find reprehensible is not so much our ignorance, but the fact that we lack the desire to change this. We have all the technological tools and resources available for us to seek out this knowledge, but we don’t.

The sweatshops are an ugly part of consumer culture. So are the underpaid, overworked young workers.

But what’s uglier is the fact that we know these things, and yet, do nothing about it. We can change it, but we don’t.

After all, what’s another anonymous factory worker to us?

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This entry was posted on September 4, 2012 by .

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