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Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy [Paperback]

Kevin Bales
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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There is a newer edition of this item:
Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy: New Slavery in the Global Economy, Updated with a New Preface Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy: New Slavery in the Global Economy, Updated with a New Preface 5.0 out of 5 stars (1)
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Book Description

12 Nov 2004
Slavery is illegal throughout the world, yet more than twenty-seven million people are still trapped in one of history's oldest social institutions. Kevin Bales' disturbing story of contemporary slavery reaches from Pakistan's brick kilns and Thailand's brothels to various multinational corporations. His investigations reveal how the tragic emergence of a 'new slavery' is inextricably linked to the global economy. This completely revised edition includes a new preface. All of the author's royalties from this book go to fund antislavery projects around the world.


Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; Revised edition edition (12 Nov 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520243846
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520243842
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 15.5 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 471,290 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

The horror of slavery, says Kevin Bales, is "not confined to history." It is not only possible that slave labour is responsible for the shoes on your feet or your daily consumption of sugar, he writes; the products of their forced labour filter even more quietly into a broad portion of daily Western life: "They made the bricks for the factory that made the TV you watch. In Brazil, slaves made the charcoal that tempered the steel that made the springs in your car and the blade on your lawnmower ... Slaves keep your costs low and returns on your investments high".

The exhaustive research Disposable People shows that at least 27 million people are currently enslaved around the world. Bales, considered the world's leading expert on contemporary slavery, reveals the historical and economic conditions behind this resurgence. From Thailand, Mauritania, Brazil, Pakistan and India, Bales has gathered stories of people in unthinkable conditions, kept in bondage to support their owners' lives. Bales insists that even a small effort from a large number of people could end slavery and he devotes a large chapter to explaining the practical means by which this might be accomplished. "Are we willing to live in a world with slaves?" he asks. As a sign of his commitment, all his royalties from Disposable People will go toward the fight against slavery. --Maria Dolan, Amazon.com --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"A well-researched, scholarly, and deeply disturbing expose of modern-day slavery with well-thought-out strategies for what to do to combat this scourge. None of us is allowed the luxury of imagined impotence. We can do something about it." - Desmond Tutu"

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slavery exists today on all continents. 30 Aug 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This book documents slavery in just five countries, but more importantly it gives a face to victims of slavery. Slaves range is age from 3 years to the age of usefulness. Mr. Bales contrasts American slavery to the slavery of today's global economy. However, horrific and inexcusable American slavery was, in some ways today's slavery is worse. It is certainly far more prevalent than most of us would like to beleive. Mr. Bales gives fairly easy tips on how average people can help combat slavery. My hope is that so many people will read this book that our combined efforts will have a positive and real effect for millions of adults, children, and children yet unborn.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  37 reviews
63 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read It. 18 July 2002
By Jedidiah Palosaari - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Wow. This *is* a book everyone should read. I'd heard about bits of slavery here and there in modern times. After I heard Bales on NPR and read about his work in Scientific American and the Sun, I was eager to get ahold of this book. But I had no idea that the horror was so widespread.
Bales writes with clearness and imagination, yet is thoroughly scientific and researched. He followed sociological procedures and didn't merely report on other's ideas, but did primary research himself with a set variable questionnaire. All of this work makes his arguments irrefutable.
Disposable People traces the three main types of slavery- old fashioned chattel slavery, debt slavery (the largest) and contract slavery (the fastest growing), in five different empirical countries. The first case of contract slavery in Thailand I found the most horrendous- families selling their daughters into slave-prostitution and death by AIDS, for the price of a colour TV. The case of chattel slavery in Mauritania was the most interesting- Arab Muslims speaking of their black slaves as their children, who need to be guided by a firm hand, but are inferior; who are fed the bare minimum to work and live, and not allowed to go to school. A place where the children of a female slave become the property of the slave owner, whether or not he is the father, and women can be kept as slaves by the claim that they are actually the wife of the slave owner, who has on his side the Qur'an's stipulation that one may have sex with one's female slaves. It was all too reminiscent of the antebellum period. Bales' weakest arguments were in regards to the form of slavery in India. While there is certainly slavery there, and it appears to be the oldest continual slavery in the world, the farming he described seemed to be more sharecropping than slavery- there was little reference to the violence that forced people to remain with their land lord/slave holder.
This book needs to be read because we need to stop this. Twenty-seven million people in the world are in slavery, and many of the products we rely on and use every day are made by them. This should not be. It can not be.
41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The race to the very bottom 13 Mar 2004
By Malvin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"Disposable People" by Kevin Bales is an important book on the topic of slavery in our time. The author intelligently combines original cases studies and third-party research with a solid understanding of global economics. The result is a startling but convincing expose that should be read by everyone.
Mr. Bales describes the major factors driving slavery today. First, the post-WW II population explosion has created a huge and desperate reserve army of the unemployed. Second, the process of proletarianization continues in many so-called "developing" nations as millions of peasant farmers are displaced by mechanization. Third, economic globalization serves to break down the social fabric as materialism and greed substitutes for the communal values that prevail in peasant societies.
Mr. Bales is careful to contrast the "New Slavery" of today with the "Old Slavery" of the past. The New Slavery is clearly embedded within the logic of post-industrial production, where capital avoids its social and environmental responsibilities and ruthlessly exploits human and natural resources for maximum profit. In this light, the New Slavery represents the race to the very bottom of a brutal system that is controlled by speculative investors and is accountable to no one.
Case studies examining prostitution in Thailand and coal production in the Brazilian rainforest help us further understand the dynamics of the New Slavery. Subcontractors do the dirty work of luring and keeping laborers in servitude while shielding owners from justice. Mr. Bales tells us that in the case of Brazil, the landowners who blithely ignore such practices include some of the largest corporations in the world.
The Old Slavery defined by the traditional master/slave relationship has survived into the present as well. Mr. Bales courageously traveled to the police state of Mauritania to gather evidence of slavery at great risk to himself and the locals who assisted him. The author devotes chapters to Old Slavery practices in India and Pakistan, where repressive sexist, class, and religious beliefs enforce an essentially Feudal social order. However, Mr. Bales makes clear that the economic forces unleashed by globalization are effectively breathing new life into these ancient practices. For example, upper caste slave owners in India are heavily dependent on slave labor to support both their privileged social positions and their increasingly Western-style consumerist lifestyle.
As many in the U.S. theorize and debate from their easy chairs about the reasons why industrial jobs may be rotating to low-wage countries, Mr. Bales' book effectively shocks us from our complacency. As amply demonstrated in this book, slavery is an expression of the infinite demands of capital taken to its logical conclusion. Clearly, eradicating slavery is essential to reclaiming our humanity. To that end, Mr. Bales makes a number of policy recommendations and provides resources at the end of the book to help readers get involved in the anti-slavery struggle.
I give this sensitive, perceptive and important book the highest recommendation possible.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent 6 Dec 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book is fascinating, well written, and informative. The author never whines when discussing horrible situations around the world; he simply presents what he has learned from his extensive research. Every issue that I would have wanted to ask the author about is addressed in the book. The book is interesting politically, economically and culturally. I highly recommend it.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slavery is back. It probably never left. 29 Dec 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a book that should be required reading in schools all over the world. It tells the truth about slavery in our time. There are young African girls being enslaved in major cities like Paris, half-starved and tortured. There are little children in India and Pakistan working unbearable jobs all day every day for no pay. There are the sex slaves working in Thailand, unable to escape, picked up by the corrupt police when they try, and beaten, raped, and returned to the brothel where they are beaten and raped some more. There are the slaves of Mauritania, Brazil, and on and on, each with their own story. Of course there are topics not covered in this book, like the kidnapping and forced prostitution of French, British and American girls in the Middle East and Japan. But this book will motivate you to join Anti-Slavery International and become a modern day abolitionist.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slavery exists today on all continents. 30 Aug 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book documents slavery in just five countries, but more importantly it gives a face to victims of slavery. Slaves range is age from 3 years to the age of usefulness. Mr. Bales contrasts American slavery to the slavery of today's global economy. However, horrific and inexcusable American slavery was, in some ways today's slavery is worse. It is certainly far more prevalent than most of us would like to beleive. Mr. Bales gives fairly easy tips on how average people can help combat slavery. My hope is that so many people will read this book that our combined efforts will have a positive and real effect for millions of adults, children, and children yet unborn.
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