Q. Economic Geography increasingly rests upon the social, the environmental as well as the economic dimensions of contemporary life. Discuss (1500-2000 words) Economic geography is a broad term which can define many aspects of everyday life, in reference to everyday people, from all types of backgrounds. Economic Geography has to do with things, and services. It concerns not only the people and places that provide them, but the people and places that consume them as well. Economic Geography discusses things as commodities, created for exchange, and the exploitation of the labour invested. It concerns the mediation of exchange & pathways which move from production to consumption (from the birth to the death of a product) (Mackinnon and Cumbers, 2007, p.173-213). In this essay I will talk about many ways in which the above statement can be proved, by using well-known examples to demonstrate my case. With regards to the social dimensions of contemporary life, they make up a big part of Economic Geography. There are many social aspects of economic geography to do with all stages of production of a product, from start to finish. These aspects have to do mainly with (1) workers, and (2) consumers and buyers.
Socialisation occurs between workers as they become acquainted with each other, mainly through the communication of business deals. These business deals are vital to ensure that everything runs smoothly. They occur when the journey of a product is being planned and supervised from beginning to end. Take for example the rice crop. It would need a plan of where and how the plant would be grown, how it would be cultivated, prepared for consumption and packaged, as well as transportation to the marketplace. This would all involve work by many people by communicating with one another and making a set plan, so that the product would be able to be sold on the marketplace for the cheapest price with a marginal profit, so as to provide for all the workers along the way.
Exploitation can often happen as part of the manufacturing process of a product, whereby a person of authority would exploit a worker to make a better profit for themselves, without thinking of the working/payment conditions that the worker needs. Workers are often forced to work in poor conditions like a complete disregard for health and safety measures, such as little ventilation, cramped working spaces, and working with dangerous equipment without the proper safety precautions being taken. They are often made work long hours while being paid below the minimum wage, which isn’t sufficient for the workers financial needs. Conflict can arise between the employees and employers when the employees stand up for themselves and fight for their rights. The main concern of a business is to make a profit. As a result many workers are inevitably mistreated in the workplace. This conflict between employers and employees leads to many trade unions fighting for the rights of these employees.
Fair Trade is an option whereby consumers can pay a slightly higher than average price for a select amount of goods, while the farmers, workers, and manufacturers are paid a fair price for partaking in the production process. There is a set clear minimum and progressive criteria to ensure that the conditions for the production and trade of a product are socially and economically fair and environmentally responsible (http://fairtrade.ie). They are given good working conditions, and they are not mistreated by their employers, unlike what happens in some countries. Take for example the banana tree crop. If one buys fair trade bananas, they are contributing to the wellbeing of the farmers who grow and produce the crop, as well as the people who work in the manufacturing process to maintain a superior quality of the product.
There are many environmental issues which can be discussed when talking about Economic Geography. An example I will talk about is the story of Love Canal in...
Mackinnon, Danny., Cumbers, Andrew.(2007). An Introduction to Economic Geography: Globalization, Uneven Development and Place. 5th en. Essex: Pearson Education Ltd.
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