The Travels Of A T-Shirt In The Global Economy
“Who made your T-shirt? Was it a child in Vietnam, chained to a sewing machine without food or water? Or a young girl from India earning 18 cents per hour and allowed to visit the bathroom only twice per day? Did you know that she lives 12 to a room? That she shares her bed and has only gruel to eat? That she is forced to work 90 hours each week, without overtime pay? That she lives not only in poverty, but also in filth and sickness, all in the name of Nike’s Profits?” (Rivoli, xii). These questions came from a student’s protest at Georgetown University. Pietra Rivoli, author of The Travels of a T-Shirt in a Global Economy,” was intrigued by this protest, which beckoned her to go on a journey to investigate how her t-shirt was made. Rivoli travels thousands of miles to 3 continents; a cotton field in Texas, a factory in China, and a used clothing market in Africa. By personally observing the entire creation process of a T-shirt, she tells a story of the people, politics, and markets that are involved in the formation of T-shirts. Rivoli keeps her opinions, concerning whether she is either for or against free trade, virtually clear of the text, and looks at both the positive and negative sides of free trade issues. Her main argument concerns the overstated importance of markets, as through her journey she has discovered that the key events in a t-shirts life are less about competitive markets than they are about politics, history, and creative manoeuvres to avoid the markets altogether. Rivoli’s story turned out to be less about the markets than she had predicted, and more about the historical and political webs in which the markets are embedded. Overall, she has shown how globalization can promote wealth-enhancing possibilities to some places, and a trap for other places whose chances of economic development are doomed due to power imbalances, and poor functioning politics.
Rivoli uses personal...