The clothing industry and us.

When people are asked where their items of clothing is from, the first thought is which high street shop they last visited instead of where in the world the items were made.  When asked I asked people where their stuff was made I got a common reaction was straight away ‘China’ or ‘I dunno, somewhere in Asia’. Most people just assume that their clothing is made in ‘third world countries’ or in sweatshops to keep costs down to give all of us a ‘bargain’.  The most common label on peoples clothing and one we are all familiar with is ‘Made In China’, this has become commonplace on almost all our products.

As a group we decided to look at clothing made in china and ask our classmates/friends/family their opinion on where they thought their clothes were made and the quality of the products in terms of price.  We cut out little t-shirt shapes of paper to put their answers on to link the two ideas. The questions we asked them were;

1. What is you favourite shop?

2. What was the last item you bought from there?

3. Do you know anything about where the product was made?

4. If not, where would you guess it was made?

5. Do you care where the product is made?

6. What do you think of the quality of the product?

7. What do you think about the quality of the product made in the U.K as opposed to those made elsewhere in the world?

8. Does the price of the item reflect the standard of work?

From the responses I received from the people I asked, no one really knows exactly where their clothing actually comes from or really care. I found that when people were asked to guess where their stuff comes from, they usually guess China, Asia somewhere or ‘some poor country’. It not an unknown fact that clothing is made in poorer countries, its just not really cared about. I found that until people are pressed to think about the physical place of where their clothes are bought, it’s not ever something that crosses their minds. The way in which a certain shops clothes are made is not an aspect in deciding if they buy something from that shop. People just don’t care if their clothes are made in third world countries. Saying that, I did hear a few people did bring up the issue of child labour. At no point during the buying of the item do they feel guily though, its only when its brought to their attention through television or internet or people like myself asking them to think about their purchases.

After the first couple of people mentioned the issue of child labour, I then added the question of child labour. The most common thing I found was that when people walk into shops they don’t immediately think of where the item was made or who by. They mostly think that ‘it’s a nice shirt’ or ‘oh that will go with…’. I found that people only see the item and not its backstory, because after all, no one really knows about every single shops ethics.

One of the main points that people were telling me that were contradicting their earlier answers was concerning the price of their products compared to the quality of it. I found that people don’t like the thought of young children making their clothes but they also aren’t prepared to pay more it. In terms of the quality they receive now, people tent to be happy with it, otherwise, would we really buy anything? People said that they wouldn’t be happy paying any more money for the same product with the only difference being it was made in the UK. This in itself is quite hypocritical, people don’t like the thought of children make their clothing but we are not prepared to pay more for home made clothing. I don’t think anyone has the right to say these people are wrong because, after all, we are all guilty of it. We know that some shops are known to use child labour but we all still shop in them.

I think that no one can say they are not guilty of buying products from China, because after all, most things are made there. There usually no information from clothing shops in particular, about how and where their clothes are made. I cant blame people for not knowing or caring about the way their clothes are made because well have all done it, we have all picked something up off the rail and given no thought to the working conditions or there in the world it came from. We are all guilty of buying Chinese products, and we just don’t care.

 

 

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Chinese popular culture. Comics and Religion

When you think of comics you think of Marvel or DC from America or Manga from Japan. When asked, many do not know of Chinese comics, many believing that they are merely translated Japanese or American comic books. Chinese comics are called Manhua. The eldest being stone reliefs from 11C BC and on pottery from 5000 to 3000 BC. Chinese manhua was born roughly between the years 1867 and 1927. Because of the introduction of lithograph printing from the west, satirical drawings soon appeared in newspapers and periodicals. By the 1920’s palm sized books had been printed and were considered the predecessor of modern day manhua. Chinese comic books are seen as a way to entertain and educate the public of China. It’s content can include anything from literary classics, fiction and non fiction, fairy tales, myths and biographies. Due to the rising interest in Chinese visual art, popular culture and media, comic books have gained a lot of attention from academics in the more recent years. Around the time of the Cultural Revolution, politics showed up in in almost every aspect of everyday life. The comic book was no exception. Due to the content and artistry of comic books of the period of Cultural Revolution, these books are popular topics of study for modern day Chinese history as well as the communistic propaganda and the relationship between politics, art and education.

 

When thinking of religion in China, we think Buddhism or perhaps the worship of ancestors and deities. Mostly what we have seen in films or television adaptations, but what is the Chinese view on religion? Many travelling to China for the first time are often surprised or shocked at the differences between China and the western world. Beliefs and values play an important in the culture. The word religion only exists in western languages. In others a word had to be created. This is much the case with China. At the beginning of the century, the Chinese borrowed the Japanese word for religion. Currently there are five religions in China: Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity. Though due to the fact that religions are family based they do not demand the support of its members. Many believe that the term “religion” is inaccurate when speaking of Taoism or Buddhism and tend to refer to them as “cultural practices”. Much of who or what should be called religious in China is up for debate. It has been said that the general percentage of people that regard themselves as religious in China is amongst the lowest in the world.

Since it’s introduction in the first century, Buddhism has remained a popular religion in China. However the largest religious group in China is that of Chinese folk religion otherwise known as “Shenism” . It is the collective which includes Taoism and the worship of the shens. The shens are a collection of local deities, heroes and ancestors, and figures from Chinese myths and legend. Most recently Mazu, goddess of the seas; Huangdi, divine patriarch of the Chinese nation and the Black Dragon Caishen, god of prosperity and wealth.

Although Christianity in China is well established since the seventh century, it declined in the tenth through fourteenth centuries due to persecution. It was reintroduced in the sixteenth century and by the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries there had been an influx of European ideology in China. The Communist party of China, when it came to power in 1949, was seen as an atheist faction and viewed western religions as a tool of western colonialism and since then has preserved a separation of the church from state affairs. By the 1980’s more religious freedoms were granted and the traditional values and beliefs of Taoism and Buddhism were supported as a necessary part of Chinese culture.

Nowadays, Shenism-Taoism and Buddhism are the largest religions in China with around 30% of its population. Around 10% of the population are counted as non-Han ethnicities who follow their own tribal religions. It is believed that Christianity only covers around 3 or 4% of the population and Muslims are around 1 to 2%. It would seem that most of the population art agnostic or atheist, this being around the region of 60 to 70%. Confucianism is widely popular amongst intellectuals.