Clothed in Integrity
Weaving Just Cultural Relations and the Garment Industry
Publication Year: 2000
Barbara Paleczny, herself a daughter of garment workers, tugs at the threads of homeworking in the garment industry to reveal a low-wage strategy that rends the fabric of social integrity and exposes global trends. The resurgence of sweatshops affects the working poor in both first- and third-world countries.
Paleczny assesses the responsibility of transnational retailers for unacceptable wages and working conditions and describes historic shifts in the global context of garment production. After exploring systemic causes of poverty, relevant policy setting, and ethical foundations, Paleczny introduces both short- and long-range possibilities for transformation, emphasizing the collaborative nature of work.
Clothed in Integrity draws on feminist studies, alternative economics, and the ethical foundations proposed by Bernard Lonergan to fashion a constructive work in which Paleczny connects issues of societal meanings and values, moral imperatives, and economic feasibility. With candour, she shares personal stories of engagement in coalition work. Those who dwell on this text will find information, challenges, and inspiration to nurture their reflection, research, dialogue, and action.
Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Series: Studies in Women and Religion
Title Page, Copyright Page
How grateful I am to all those who sew the clothes we wear and to those who work together in coalitions to bring fair wages and working conditions for them! Thank you to all those whose justice weaving drew me into collaborative research and campaigns. I note, in particular, The Homeworkers’ Association, The Coalition...
Dylex controls Braemar, Fairweather/Fashion Rack, Club Monaco, Harry Rosen, L.A. Express, Thriftys, Tip Top Tailors/Canadian Clothiers, BiWay and Drug World. Manufacturing and retailing men and women’s clothing through fourteen chains operating 710 family clothing stores, Dylex tells customers...
Part I: Identifying Relations of Ruling and Solidarity
1. Present Conditions of Garment Homeworking in Toronto: The Microeconomics of a Low-Wage Strategy
While women’s need to earn an income has increased within double- and single-parent families, public workplace jobs in Ontario in all sectors have decreased. Even service jobs are suffering loss because of the North American Free Trade Agreement.1 Homeworking is being promoted as a key, corporate, flexible...
2. The Macroeconomics of Garment Homeworking: Homework in Its Historical Context
My parents’ story as garment workers reflects work trends in the province and stands as a reminder that homeworking is not new. Garment homeworking is particularly significant in the story of women’s work. Why are these women so poor when they work so hard? The story is intimately bound up with changes in the political, social...
3. The Macroeconomics of Garment Homeworking: The International Web of Production and Feminist Analysis of the Relations of Ruling
Garment production in Toronto happens within a global web with interlaced chains of processes and controls. I critique the relations of ruling which underline the international web of production as they affect garment homeworkers. The processes hidden behind purchases of clothing are global. They are also as local as each homeworker and each consumer...
4. Transforming the Local Situation in Its Global Context
That homeworkers are exploited is abundantly clear. What is less obvious is how to change the relations of ruling within the pyramid structure of the garment industry in order to create just relations, especially for homeworkers at the bottom. The Coalition for Fair Wages and Working Conditions for Homeworkers (Homework Coalition) took...
Part II: Constructing Feminist Socio-economic Ethics as Transformative Theology
5. Horizon, Bias and Specificity/Difference Analysis Related to Homeworking
The first step of identifying underlying core issues involves an exploration of horizon, bias and operative application of attitudes about specificity and difference. These make visible the connections among prevailing attitudes, myths and customs in a society which tolerates exploitation. First, I examine the dominant horizon to uncover presuppositions...
6. Home Outside the Public Eye
This chapter focuses on attitudes that have been ingrained widely enough to become structural causes of poverty for women and youth, especially regarding all work in homes and domestic labour beyond homes. I probe the meaning of Beverly Wildung Harrison’s critique that the public/private split legitimizes ‘‘both a capitalist mode of...
7. Discerning Elements for Socio-economic Ethics
Unmasking injustice in the corporate relations of the garment industry is part of a process of establishing justice not only through protective legislation and enforcement but also in our very ways of being and relating as whole societies. The very nature of the issues at hand involves making judgements and decisions at every turn. It is a work of...
Taking the perspectives of homeworkers and of those in solidarity with them opens up an inquiry of socio-economic relations from outside the ruling apparatus and from outside formally recognized economic theory. My perspective is also that of a consumer demanding justice in the clothing chain of...