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UNIT 24: Globalization and Economics

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VIDEO SEGMENT: Global Economy and Social Change: Sri Lanka

One of the hallmarks of globalization is the separation of production and consumption. This segment explores the social, cultural, and economic effects such separation can have through the example of women clothing manufacturers in Sri Lanka. Since the 1970s, efforts by the Sri Lankan government to encourage free trade have led to the rapid growth of Sri Lankan manufacturing plants geared to U.S. and European markets. These plants, most of which produce clothing, employ hundreds of thousands of unmarried women who aspire to make a decent living.

However, cultural problems sometimes arise in situations where women work in plants that produce women's undergarments. In Sri Lanka, underwear has sexual connotations, and it is also considered to be unclean. As a result, female workers in such plants are perceived as tainted because of their association with undergarments. They are called "Juki girls"-a sexually suggestive and derogatory nickname-and are often subject to teasing and insults on their way to and from work. Many Sri Lankan women have become afraid of working in such plants or have learned to hide their occupations from their friends. Thus for the present, at least in Sri Lanka, globalization seems to have been the bearer of both economic benefits as well as new social and cultural tensions.

SELECTED IMAGES AND MAPS


Seamus Walsh, GIRL SEWING AT JUKI MACHINE, SRI LANKA (c. 1990). Courtesy of Caitrin Lynch.

Seamus Walsh, THE WORK OF PRODUCTION, SRI LANKA (c. 1990). Courtesy of Caitrin Lynch.


Seamus Walsh, MACHINE OPERATOR REMOVES STITCHES FROM AN INCORRECTLY SEWN SHIRT, SRI LANKA (c. 1990). Courtesy of Caitrin Lynch.

Seamus Walsh, THE WORK OF PRODUCTION, SRI LANKA (c. 1990). Courtesy of Caitrin Lynch.



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