Global Commodity Chain: Core vs Periphery Child Poverty

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Global Commodity Chain: Core vs. Periphery Child Poverty

By: Vlad Boitos

In the modern era, we face a continually changing global economy that fosters many benefits as well as drawbacks. These benefits and drawbacks are not shared equally amongst the world’s key players and thus equality is not a concept that is well integrated in the world system. The world system theory seeks to assess the channels through which global forces operate, as well as how and why they do so. It seeks to compare the two main entities in the world; the core and the periphery, which categorize the world population into two broad yet very different spectrums. The core refers to advanced industrial nations, whereas the periphery usually refers to third world nations with fringe economies, often requiring international support. The theory, created by Immanuel Wellerstein in 1987, seeks to analyze the methods by which the core and periphery interact through the global commodity chain. The global commodity chain being “the network of labour and production processes whose end result is a finished commodity” (Hopkins, 1986). Such a theory can be used to asses a broad range of subjects regarding the world economy, however for the purpose of this essay, we will apply the world system theory to the issue of child poverty, in a comparison of Canada vs. India.

A common by-product of today’s trend towards globalization is child poverty. This issue is arguably the most evident and alarming crisis in the world today. For the purpose of this essay we may define child poverty as “A significant lack of the basic needs required for healthy physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual development. Child poverty is also defined as a lack of opportunities (capability deprivation), a lack of control over one’s life, as social isolation and as discriminatory treatment at the hands of others.” (Free the Children, 2005) None of today’s economies are exempt of child poverty, as both advanced industrial nations such as Canada and periphery nations such as India face this issue, thus it is a global crisis. One key difference found when comparing the two nations, is the type of poverty experienced. The first half of the definition above describes the poverty found in India; absolute poverty, or a lack of basic tools required for healthy physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual development. The second half of the definition describes the poverty evident in Canada; relative poverty, or a lack of control over one’s life in the sense of social isolation, in the sense of capability deprivation through the lack of opportunity for development. In broad terms, absolute poverty is a lack of basic needs, while relative poverty is a lack of basic wants, thus absolute poverty is much more severe. The reason behind these differences is the discriminatory behaviour projected by core entities such as multinational corporations onto periphery nations such as India.

This essay will seek to show the causes for such a difference through asserting that child poverty is more prevalent and more severe in India, a periphery nation, than in Canada, an affluent AIC. Such a difference is a result of the compounding disadvantages created by the GCC, through the forces of neo-liberal policies. Globalization, combined with austerity, deregulation, and privatization produce severe adverse effects in periphery nations. The lack of social and economic support for the poor leads to the intensification of child poverty.

Neo-Liberal Forces:

Before analyzing the specific causes for child poverty, we must first understand how the specific circumstances are made possible through neoliberal-policy. In broad terms, neo-liberal policy is “the pursuit of interests by advancing a model of the state that favours capitalist interests, promoting multilateral institutions to enforce neoliberal policies, and advancing a culture-ideology of consumerism that lionizes global capitalism”...
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