Do you care if a pair of jeans you were about to buy was made with sweatshop labor?
What if you looked really good in them—would you care then?
Are you sure?
In Sweatshop Labor is Wrong Unless the Jeans are Cute, Neeru Paharia and Rohit Deshpandé of Harvard Business School share the results of two studies that have revealed that consumers “are motivated to use moral disengagement strategies to reduce dissonance when their desire for a product conflicts with their moral standards.”
Put simply, the more you want something, the more you are apt to mentally justify your actions with statements such as “The use of sweatshop labor is okay because companies must remain competitive,” and “Sweatshops are the only realistic source of income for workers in poorer countries.”
We rationalize war, but now it’s clear our moral judgments are affected in the purchasing decisions we make every day.
To this, the authors warn—
While on the face of it, such actions are less atrocious than the horrors of war, they may perhaps be even more dangerous due to their subtle and insidious nature – by some estimates there are hundreds of thousands of sweatshops still operating today.
While there’s debate about the role of sweatshops in a global economy, most would agree that conditions in many are deplorable.
So who’s most responsible for the survival of sweatshops?
- Consumers for continuing to purchase the products?
- Marketers that position, package and merchandise the products?
What’s your take?