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Dec 3 2016


New York City


New York City – Models are marching along the biggest shops in Fifth Avenue, wearing faux bloodied shirts with statements 'Made in Bangladesh’, ‘Support Cheap Labor.’

Myths about ethical consumption: ineffective, expensive and subordinate

(We Do Care), Karlijn Roex, campaign organizer, PhD candidate in Sociology from the Max Planck Institute (Germany).“People are ashamed to admit they buy sweatshop made shirts. Regardless, people keep shopping for dubious labels despite the increased media attention on the human and labor rights violations, notably after the 2013 collapse of a Bangladesh factory.” The main barrier to ethical consumption are misguided perceptions about standard human decency, research shows. “People think their own consumption doesn’t make a difference, and that fair consumption is expensive and lowers the quality of your bought items." Yet the data on 'fair fashion' demonstrates otherwise.

Social norms: From I Don’t Care to We Do Care

“The social norm against dubious consumption is basically no one would buy a shirt if it boldly printed where it was made on the chest” “One problem is that ethics can switched off while in the consumption space. Rather, other norms of status display and looking wealthy are emphasized.” Of course, if we fully abandon sweatshop conditions worldwide, clothes will become more expensive. The problem is that people are currently urged to buy a couple of new items each new season. If we would abandon these consumerist norms, fair fashion would be very affordable. “We have two competing social norms, one of consumerism and one of fair fashion and the latter norm often is deactivated during the consumption moment. We therefor need to re-implant this social norm into the spaces where the consumption experience currently paralyzes people’s norms. People generally, but especially fashion consumers, are very sensitive for social approval and disapproval.” “Shame is a very effective tool to make people avoid dubious products.” By having models marching with bloodied t-shirts with slogans such as ‘Made in Bangladesh’, ‘Support Cheap Labor’, in the midst of the largest shopping street in Manhattan, she wants to “be visible in the street for shoppers to add a shame-effect”.

Sweatshop labor make people better off?

One strong myth is that by spending money on sweatshop made fashion, people improve the situation of the workers. The assumption is that developing world sweatshops provide a way out of poverty for these workers. There is this notion that working in a sweatshop pays better than the alternative for these people, worker exploitation is perceived as opportunity. People would choose freely to work in a sweatshop. Yet, this argument forgets the impact of clothing production on the local environment. Pollution has left the soil infertile and the water poisoned, driving people out of villages, towns and alternative jobs, into the sweatshop factories.

Moreover, spending money on these brands contribute to huge wealth accumulation with CEOs and stockholderd, who can then sustain their strong lobbies against internationally uniform workers protection legislation.

Taking the pledge

The We Do Care campaign is not aimed at placing blame or shaming consumers. Rather, consumers are invited to self-educate and improve their consumption behavior. “Today we offer consumers a window of opportunity to change their behavior. They can take a pledge on our Twitter https://twitter.com/_wedocare under the hashtag #sweatshopmade or on the website https://allthosewalls.wordpress.com. “Consumers can be very powerful given their huge number. When we all show that we do care about where our products come from, this will give the manufacturers a large incentive to change too." The We Do Care campaign also aims to inform consumers about how to make better choices, and to bust the myths that ethical consumption is ineffective, expensive or subordinate”.

If you are interested in this campaign, or want to learn about how this campaign is going viral, you can contact Kar Roex, campaign organizer at 929.453.8427
Or send an email to k.l.a.roex@gmail.com (response within mostly 1 hour)

Attachments and images:
This press message is also online at: https://allthosewalls.wordpress.com/. Images from this website and the campaign twitter page

https://twitter.com/_wedocare may be used by editors, only when referring to the websites and the photographer Jamell Elfe (emoekpm@gmail.com).

Posted by k.l.a.roex@gmail.com on

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