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Rescooped by Elizabeth Allen from Geography Education
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The Voices of China's Workers

TED Talks In the ongoing debate about globalization, what's been missing is the voices of workers -- the millions of people who migrate to factories in China and other emerging countries to make goods sold all over the world.


Our collective understanding of modern industrialization and globalization needs to go beyond the binary of "oppressors" and "victims."  This lecture explores the voices and lives of Chinese workers that we so often simply see as simply victims of a system, but are full of ambition and agency. 

 

Tags: industry, globalization, labor, China, TED. 


Via Seth Dixon
Elizabeth Allen's insight:

This is an interesting video.  Leslie Chang was able to gain such perspective from the girls who work in China's factories.  Learning about how the girls are optimistic about their future.  They don't want the Coach Bag or IPhone they are making- it would take months for them to afford it...  They want an education and social mobility.  It was uplifiting to hear that factory workers want education and more out of life, however as mentioned- they are "invisible"  We (Westerners) avoid the idea that people in China working for next to nothing in response to our lifestyle and demands. This also makes you think about when you see a product that is considered an 'American Classic'  it does not mean made in America.        Elizabeth Allen  

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Ryli Smith's comment, May 5, 2013 2:55 PM
In these Chinese factories, they don't view these jobs as harsh or poor treatment because this is better than how they would be doing back in their villages. They want these jobs so bad because they will give them a better life. Also, you have to remember that not all of these Chinese factory workers want to have an iPhone or a Coach purse or Nike shoes, because those things don't have any worth in their culture.
Samuel D'Amore's curator insight, December 17, 5:26 PM

The plight of Chinese workers today is incredibly great. This TED talks explains the situations many in China find themselves in the terrible conditions they must work in. While us in the west see this as unthinkable China's model for success and expansion comes at the cost of their workforce who are subjugated to poor working conditions as very low pay. The real hope for this to change is for the nation as a whole to become wealthy enough that these workers will be able to demand fair wages and work environments. 

Jacob Crowell's curator insight, December 17, 11:08 PM

These workers do see their jobs as opportunities. This video is a great eye opener for people who tend to fall into the trap of looking at globalization as a system of haves and have nots. 

Rescooped by Elizabeth Allen from Geography Education
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Troubles on Russia's Lake Baikal

Troubles on Russia's Lake Baikal | Geography 400 at ric | Scoop.it
Workers at an ailing paper mill in Siberia are clinging to their jobs in the face of financial pressure and criticism from environmentalists.

 

The environment, industry and politics play key roles in this story of an old style Soviet mono-town on Lake Baikal.  Monotowns had planned economies that revolved around one industry and today many of these are struggling in the post-Soviet era.  While the particulars of the political situation are a bit dated, the overall issue is still quite relevant to understanding Russia today.   

 

This video provides a clear picture of lasting effects of post-Soviet times. The Siberian mill was at one time a central industry town. Now that the industry has slowed down, it is becoming criticized for its environmental flaws. Environmentalists want to close the factory down, however there is a society of workers who are soley dependent on their jobs here. Through the transition from communsim to capitalism many factors need to be considered. The factory is causing a great deal of harm to the environment and the health of the people, however to just hut it down would disrupt the stability of the people who work there.  Elizabeth Allen

 

Tags: Russia, industry, labor, environment, economic, water, pollution, environment modify, unit 6 industry.


Via Seth Dixon
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Brett Sinica's curator insight, October 20, 2013 2:43 PM

The story of this particular mono-town is very tough to "pick sides".  The factory undoubtedly pollutes the air and land like most other industrial areas, but being so close to Lake Baikal gives environmentalists a stronger reason to complain.  The lake is considered one of the purest and most unique in the world, yet the paper mill located on its banks raise controversy.  This is where the locals and workers are stuck between a rock and hard place.  Located in Siberia, such a vast and open region with little settlements compared to the western part of the country reminds the people living there that their resources are limited.  Closing down the factory would almost eliminate income and economy for the mono-town.  This is where the fine line is drawn; the workers surely aren't happy about the pollution and environmental hazards that go along with keeping the mill open, but at the same time the people could wither away if it wasn't up and running.

Ashley Raposo's curator insight, December 19, 2013 1:42 AM

THough the Soviet Union has been gone since the early 90s, it's hold on Russia is still creating problems. The creations of monotowns were already flawed. But to have this one monotown on Lake Baikal has gained the attention of enviromentalists. All odds are against that monotown. Without it's paper factory they have no jobs and no need for the town. It is a fight between enviromental geography and human geography in this area of the world. These people are stuck in a time where even the Soviet Union looked a little better than the constant wondering of your finacial stability in an up and coming capitalist nation.

Paige Therien's curator insight, May 4, 12:05 PM

The Soviet Union scattered "monotowns" around their territory; these monotowns consist of a job-creating industrial institutions like factories which then allow the formation of towns around them.  They are located all around the former Soviet Union and are very isolated.  After the collapse of the Soviet Union, these towns continued to run due to the privatization of the industrial center.  Today, Russia's Lake Baikal, which is the deepest lake in the world and contains 20 percent of the Earth's fresh water, is home to one of these monotowns.  This particular town's economy is based on their paper mill which uses and deposits tons of chemicals.  Environmentalists are very concerned for the future of the lake while the citizens are only concerned with feeding their families and this is creating social unrest.  Due to the isolation and distance from Moscow, people cannot just pick up and leave.  Also, working with "cleaner" alternatives is way out of this town's budget.  Today, many citizens in these monotowns miss the support that the Soviet Union offered and people are literally stuck in a place where their only income is dirty.

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Worker safety in China

This is an incredible video because of the shocking footage of blatant disregard for worker safety.  This can lead to an interesting discussion concerning how China has been able to have its economy grow.  What other ways has China (or Chinese companies) been "cutting corners?"  How does that give them a competitive edge on the global industrial market?     

 

My heart was in my throat watching this video. Is that the procedure for demolishing the entire building? Ironically this was to clear way because the Olympics were being held in Bejing. There is some irony here, representatives from other travelling down that main road would be appalled to see these working conditions. And for little pay on top of risking their lives.   According to the National.ae.com, close to 80,000 people died in 2010 due to unsafe working conditions.

Elizabeth Allen


Via Seth Dixon
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James Hobson's curator insight, November 21, 9:11 PM

(East Asia topic 6)
This video signifies two distinct characteristics of labor in China. First and most obviously is the disregard of safety. One could argue in the past that risks such as these were accepted by workers since China was a largely less-developed country with fewer employment opportunities; however, being a recent video and China  currently making exponential economic and developmental ground, this is definitely one of those 'things which shouldn't be happening'. With all of the nation's so-called "improvements," why are none discernible  here?

  Secondly, traits such as subservient respect are valued more in nations such as China. It is possible that if these workers hadn't have taken the risk and not completed the job, they would've been fired and had a somewhat 'tainted' reputation for not following their orders to demolish the building.

  Though it seems that all industrializing nations have gone through issues of workers' safety and reasonable expectations, China should use it's late-coming as a plus by learning from others which have gone before it, and avoiding the personal, legal, and even some social issues which have been faced before.

Jacob Crowell's curator insight, December 15, 1:52 PM

China's ability to sweep unjust working conditions under the rug has allowed it to grow economically at an impressive rate. Although I disagree with unsafe working conditions it is important to note the hypocrisy that developed countries display when advocating fro workers rights. In the US for example, our economic growth was contingent on slavery, child labor, and immigrant exploitation. Unfortunately if any developing country wants to compete with countries that are at the top of the global economic hegemony, they must cut the same corners those countries cut centuries ago. What needs to be done is find a way to show developing countries that growth is possible without abusing workers. 

Samuel D'Amore's curator insight, December 17, 5:23 PM

This video borders on difficult to watch. While it is definitely amazing to watch it really flies in the face of standard American job safety operations. These workers are perched on top of this building with no harnesses balancing in the shovel of a back hoe while sawing loose great slabs of concrete. Luckily no one was injured in this video but frankly this video does a great job of showing how China has been able to grow so rapidly. A lack of interest in individual workers safety and a sole goal of progress, at the possible cost of its citizens.