Date of Award

Spring 2014

Degree Type

Honors Project

School

College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Karen Vogel

Abstract

The international fashion industry has long struggled with challenges around the practices of garment production, including adequate wage disputes, humane working conditions, and abuse and exploitation in the workplace. Recently, factories in Bangladesh have come under pressure for their perceived lack of regulations in sweatshops. Throughout the past two years, there has been an increase in deaths and abuse reported in Bangladesh apparel sweatshops, including deadly factory fires and building collapses including the Rena Plaza collapse last April that killed 1,134 Bangladeshi factory workers. Therefore, Bangladesh becomes an interesting case study for examining how global and local norms, policies, politics and the fashion industry all interconnect, and what can be done to significantly decrease the abuse and tragedies found within the industry. The research asks the following questions: what is causing the continued abuse and poverty in Bangladesh apparel manufacturing sweatshops, and specifically, are these tragedies occurring due to lack of regulation, lack of enforcement of regulation, negligence, or other supply chain issues? The ultimate goal for this research was to explain why this exploitation continues to occur, as well as to analyze findings in a way that will contribute to suggestions for change within the industry. Following case study research, a model emerges which shows the interrelationship of international organizations, NGOs, multinational corporations, the consumer, and workers' rights.

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