Lowering the Costs
” Sweatshop Oppression, ” is written by, university student, Rajeev Ravisankar. Published in the Lantern, the student newspaper of Ohio state University, Ravisankar begins his essay by addressing college students. He acknowledges that college students are typically on a budget and looking for the best deals. The problem he identifies, is the poor working conditions and low wages, that sweatshop workers endure for consumers to pay the bare minimum. Ravisankar’s purpose in this essay is to inform readers of the negative conditions, that sweatshop workers experience. To accomplish this purpose, he first appeals to his audience, who are the consumers. He also informs his readers of the essay’s purpose, by explaining his case. Lastly, he appeals to both emotion and logic, as he describes the workers who endure these conditions, and the business corporations that only care about profits. By establishing relatability to his audience, thoroughly demonstrating his work’s purpose, and appealing to both emotion and logic, Ravisankar successfully writes an effective argument.
In Ravisankar’s essay, he created a relationship with his audience by including himself when addressing the readers. Ravisankar assumes his readers, predominantly, are struggling college students, such as himself. At the beginning of his essay, Ravisankar states, “Being the “poor” college students that we all are, many of us undoubtedly place an emphasis on finding the lowest prices “(117). He also talks about the hysteria that is associated with Black Friday shopping due to the cheaper costs of items (Ravisankar 117). By using terminology that is familiar to a college student, he gains trustworthiness from his audience. Due to his relatability, he is also displaying empathy because he understands their perspective. Through his display of empathy, he demonstrates his direct connection to the situation. After establishing this connection, he then proceeds to enlighten the audience about the harsh working environments. This is where he further explains what workers must go through for there to be affordable items. In turn, this leads him to delve into purpose of his essay, which is the analyzation of a sweatshop’s harsh working conditions.
Ravisankar establishes his argument throughout the essay, by thoroughly conveying his purpose. The purpose of his essay is to inform readers of the negative aspects of sweatshop labor. This is caused due to the drive for high production rates and low consumer costs. First, he assumes that his readers are familiar with the term sweatshop. Contrarily, he does not believe that they know full extent of working in a sweatshop. Therefore, he further introduces the concepts of “long hours”, “low wages” and “difficult or dangerous conditions”(Ravisankar 117). Ravisankar states that, “Many of these workers are forced to work 70-80 hour per week making pennies per hour”(117). This is to support his argument that the workers are enduring grueling hours per week, with unsubstantial pay. Secondly, he talks about how ” workers are discouraged or intimidated from forming unions”(Ravisankar 117). This shows how workers are being oppressed to voice their opinions to those who run the businesses. Thirdly, he states how workers, “… are forced to sit in front of a machine for hours as they are not permitted to take breaks unless the manager allows them to do so”(Ravisankar 117). This further supports his argument of the poor treatment of sweatshop workers. Furthermore, he goes on to explain how cooperation’s are more interested in increasing profits, than giving to charities (Ravisankar 118). This supports his argument that high production rates are more important for income versus helping those less fortunate. His analysis of the conditions of sweatshops, conveys his overall message that its workers are being mistreated.
In Ravisankar’s essay, he effectively uses the appeal of emotion and logic to give the reader a further understanding of the matter. He uses these, to give the reader the sense of just how harsh sweatshops are. He states ” Unsanitary bathrooms, poor ventilation, and extreme heat, upward of 90 degrees, are also prevalent. Child labor is utilized in some factories as well “(Ravisankar 118). This is the use of pathos. This is saying to the reader that while being underpaid, workers are subjected to horrible conditions, as well as, children. He also uses logos as he explains why big corporations will not stop their means of production. His explanation is that “Corporations are interested in doing anything to make profits”(Ravisankar 118). This explains to the reader how the consumer demand for lower prices is driving businesses to strive for high production rates, which increases their profits.
In his essay, Ravisankar addresses the main argument in his thesis, the idea that by stopping the poor sweatshop conditions, anti-sweatshop advocates are forcing companies to shut down which is then causing workers to lose their jobs. He refutes this statement by saying that companies are the ones who make the decision to change locations for cheaper labor and less labor restrictions, not the anti-labor advocates. (Ravisankar 118) His main point in the essay was to show cruelty of sweatshops, and their owners who only care about production and money. Finally, he concludes by making the point that several anti-sweatshop groups are taking a stand to fight against this situation. Overall, the argument that Ravisankar makes is effective because he clearly outlines the problem: Sweatshop workers are being mistreated and we should make steps to put an end to it.
Ravisankar, Rajeev. “Sweatshop Oppression.” Lantern, 19 Apr. 2006, pp. 117–118.