Sociology 430: Sociology of Globalization
Instructor: Roberto J. Ortiz, PhD
Guidelines for Critical Interpretation Essay # 2
(due Monday, October 26 at 11:59 pm)
Essay Subject: Globalization, Environment and Gender: Examining the Structural Basis of
Possible points: 12.5
I. The Essay
The goal of this essay is to examine the possible connections that exist between two global issues
we confront today: first, global environmental inequality, second, the place of womens’ work in
the global economy. Are these parallel or intertwined issues?
a. If not, why are these unrelated issues? Is environmental degradation a product of
capitalism while gender inequality is only a product of patriarchy?
b. On the other hand, if you consider that there is a
structural link or foundation that
relates global environmental injustice and gender inequality: how can we understand the
connections or links between global environmental inequalities and the gender
In the essay you will address these broad questions by constructing an argument around the
overarching theme of the possible relationship that exists between global environmental
injustice and gender dynamics. Below I provide a brief description of the issues you should be
addressing in the essay.
Description of the Themes
In this course we examined various contributions to the debate around free trade. As of today,
Trump’s anti-globalization leanings notwithstanding, the dominant view still is the one
contained in academic economic discourse: countries (or one might say, regions also) mutually
benefit from trade when each specializes in producing that good for which it has a comparative
advantage (remember our discussion from Week 5). All in all, trade and specialization, when
done under the principle of comparative advantage, will increase total output of the system.
According to this theory, moreover, the system is more efficient in the use of resources when
exchange is organized by free trade. Thus, free trade is also “greener” trade. In fact, isn’t this the
core of Lawrence Summers’ infamous 1992 memo on “dirty industries”? His logic, as he himself
wrote, appears impeccable. In places where pollution is already massive the most logical thing to
do is to outsource such industries. Fortunately, there are places in the world that are
under-polluted. So, there is a win-win opportunity here. While Summer’s original proposal—one
that should have been only an internal m
emo shared among World Bank staff—was
controversial, a decade and a half later Jay Johnson, Gary Pecquet, and Leon Taylor defended
his proposal in an “academic” publication. Thus, the notion is still influential. But, is this the last
word? Is the Third World/Global South in fact inefficiently under-polluted? Is there a case to be
made that low-wage, Global South countries do have an interest in using pollution-intensive
production, especially if such production ensures a path for their economic development? What
do John Bellamy Foster and Eduardo Galeano argue?1 Does their (i.e., Foster and Galeano)
argument fit with that of Summers?
The questions above seem to portray a Global North vs. Global South contradiction that
describes the trade and environmental dimension of contemporary globalization. Alongside it,
however, we see other global divisions that may or may not intersect with the environmental
North-South divide. Consider, for example, the place of women’s work around the world. As
Mies’ “iceberg model” of the economy suggests, there is deeply rooted differential treatment of
male (“productive”) labor vs. female (“reproductive”) labor in global capitalism. The way that
income is measured and the associated way in which labor is divided between formal and
informal sectors has important implications for the differential values imputed to the different
genders’ labor. On the basis of Maria Mies theorization and the UN’s report on women’s work,
discuss the links and analogies that may or may not exist between the North-South
environmental divide and the global gender divide. Are these issues derived from different
structures and thus should be thought of as distinct issues, or, are there reasons to suggest that
these global divides have a singular, albeit complex, basis?
First of all, of course, is the introduction. In a very brief introduction—a paragraph should
suffice—explain to the reader what they will be reading about. In terms of the main body of the
text, you should first discuss each of the two broad themes separately. For example, you can
devote two to three pages to the debate around the location of dirty industries and explain how
this debate implies a certain North-South environmental (and even human) divide. After that
you may devote two to three pages to the question of the place of women’s work in the global
economy. In both cases you should use citations and data provided in the chapters and articles
discussed in class, but use them strategically and sparingly (do not let the articles/chapters take
your place). After that you should, in two or three pages, explain the possible relations or
possible differences between those two broad problems. Here you can focus on possible
analogies and/or direct links that might relate one question to another. In this discussion, of
course, you should use your critical thinking skills: point out problems, injustices and other
questions that challenge our notions of equality or inequality. To wrap up your discussion you
should write a concluding paragraph.
While we did not read/discussed Galeano in class it would be useful for you to take a look at his chapter,
available in the reading material of Week 6 on BeachBoard.
II. Texts/Material you will/can use:
Brett Clark and John Bellamy Foster, “Ecological Imperialism and the Global Metabolic Rift:
Unequal Exchange and the Guano/Nitrates Trade,” International Journal of
Comparative Sociology 50, no. 3–4 (2009): 311–334.
Edna Bonacich, Sabrina Alimahomed, and Jake B. Wilson, “The Racialization of Global Labor,”
American Behavioral Scientist 52, no. 3 (2008): 342–55.
Eduardo Galeano, “Exterminators of the Planet,” in Upside Down: A Primer for the
Looking-Glass World (New York: Henry Holt, 2000), 215–227.
Jay Johnson, Gary Pecquet and Leon Taylor, “Potential Gains From Trade in Dirty Industries:
Revisiting Lawrence Summers’ Memo,” Cato Journal 27, no. 3 (2007): 397–410.
John Bellamy Foster, “‘Let them eat pollution:’ Capitalism and the World Environment,”
Monthly Review 4
4, no. 8 (1993).
Lawrence Summers, “Memo on Dirty Industries” (1992).
Maria Mies, “Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale – Revisited,” International Journal
of Green Economics 1, nos. 3/4 (2007): 268–275.
Martha Chen et al, Progress of the World’s Women 2005: Women, Work and Poverty ( New
York: UN Women, 2005), chapter 2, pages 21–35 (Chapter 3 is recommended, especially
for writing your second Critical Interpretation Essay).
Paul Krugman et al., “Labor Productivity and Comparative Advantage: The Ricardian Model,” in
International Economics: Theory and Practice (New York: Pearson, 2018), 52–58.
Samir Amin, “From Specialization to Dependence,” in Unequal Development: An Essay on the
Social Formations of Peripheral Capitalism (Sussex: The Harvester Press, 1976), pages
Sheba George, “‘Dirty Nurses’ and ‘Men who Play’: Gender and Class in Transnational
Migration” in Global Ethnography, eds. Burawoy, Michael et. al. (Berkley: University of
California Press, 2000), 144–174.
III. Evaluation Criteria (Rubric)
Criteria 1. Student Understands Sociological Concepts
Explanatory note to Student: When a social scientist uses a term, for example, “globalization,”
“environment,” “gender,” etc. it may not necessarily correspond to everyday life definitions
(i.e., “common sense” definitions) of those terms.
Excellent, 3.5 points: Student demonstrates an adequate understanding of the theory or
theories used in the essay. When referring to theoretical concepts in relation to a particular
problem, the student explains adequately what the social scientist or writer means when they
talk about those concepts. Moreover, she/he relates the concepts to appropriate authors. The
student clearly distinguishes between everyday use of terms and their social scientific and/or
Satisfactory, 2.5 points: Student demonstrates partial understanding of the theory or
theories used in the essay. When referring to theoretical concepts in relation to a particular
problem, the student explains some concepts but not others, and not always refers them to the
appropriate authors. The student distinguishes, but not clearly, between everyday use of terms
and their social scientific and/or critical meanings.
Unsatisfactory, 0 points: Student does not demonstrate an understanding of the theory or
theories used in the essay. The student fails to explain the concepts. The student does not refer
them to the appropriate authors. The student fails to distinguish between everyday use of terms
and their social scientific meanings.
Criteria 2. Student Evaluates Social Problems and/or Historical Processes Critically
Excellent, 3.5 points: Student evaluates social problems and/or historical process critically.
Moreover, the criticism is developed in a nuanced manner that avoids reducing complex issues
Satisfactory, 2.5 points: Student evaluates social problems and/or historical processes
critically. However, he/she fails to develop a nuanced argument.
Unsatisfactory, 0 points: Student fails to develop either a critical or nuanced argument.
Criteria 3. Student Compares and Contrasts Different Social Theories
Explanatory Note to Student: Remember that social scientific notions may have different
meanings in the conceptual systems of different sociologists, historians and other social
scientists and, of course, journalists.
Excellent, 2.5 points: When referring to more than one author, the student adequately
highlights the key points of similarity and contrast between the arguments of the different
Satisfactory, 1.5 points: When referring to more than one author, the student adequately
highlights points of similarity and contrast between the arguments of the different authors.
However, he/she misses some key points.
Unsatisfactory, 0 points: When referring to more than one author, the student fails to
highlight points of similarity and contrast between the arguments of the different authors.
Criteria 4. Student Follows Formatting Instructions and Writes Clearly and Coherently
Formatting Instructions (Worth: 1 point)
Essay length: between 5 to 10 pages (not including the bibliography or reference list).
Format: Double spaced, Times New Roman, 12 pt.
Bibliography format: Use an academic referencing style consistently, I recommend the Chicago
Manual of Style (guidelines for citing using the CMS are found freely online).
Writing Quality Expectation (Worth: 2 points)
I expect the essay to be written in a clear and coherent narrative. Spelling should be checked and
the sentences should be grammatically correct. Writing that is unclear or difficult to follow
affects the message being delivered.
Excellent, 3 points: Student follows instructions provided for the essay’s length/formatting.
The writing present in the essay is clear, coherent and carefully edited.
Satisfactory, 2 points: Student partially f ollows instructions—some of the instructions
regarding length/format above are missing. The writing present in the essay is clear and
coherent, but the essay is not edited (errors are found throughout).
Unsatisfactory, 0 points: Student fails to follow instructions provided for the essay’s length
and/or format. The writing is unclear, incoherent and full of errors.
Academic OneFile – Document – Let them eat pollution
Let them eat pollution
The Economist. 322.7745 (Feb. 8, 1992): p66.
Copyright: COPYRIGHT 1992 Economist Intelligence Unit N.A. Incorporated
A letter written by Lawrence Summers discusses the economic benefits of dumping toxic wastes in less developed
LAWRENCE SUMMERS, chief economist of the World Bank, sent a memorandum to some colleagues on
December 12th. The Economist has a copy. Some of the memo has caused a fuss within the Bank:
Just between you and me, shouldn’t the
World Bank be encouraging more migration
of the dirty industries to the LDCS? I
can think of three reasons:
(1) The measurement of the costs of
health-impairing pollution depends on the
forgone earnings from increased morbidity
and mortality. From this point of view a
given amount of health-impairing pollution
should be done in the country with the
lowest cost, which will be the country with
the lowest wages. I think the economic logic
behind dumping a load of toxic waste in
the lowest-wage country is impeccable and
we should face up to that.
(2) The costs of pollution are likely to be
non-linear as the initial increments of pollution
probably have very low cost. I’ve
always thought that under-populated countries
in Africa are vastly under-polluted;
their air quality is probably vastly inefficiently
low [sic] compared to Los Angeles
or Mexico City. Only the lamentable Facts
that so much pollution is generated by non-tradable
industries (transport, electrical
generation) and that the unit transport
costs of solid waste are so high prevent
world-welfare-enhancing trade in air pollution
(3) The demand for a clean environment
for aesthetic and health reasons is likely to
have very high income-elasticity. The concern
over an agent that causes a one-in-amillion
change in the odds of prostate cancer
is obviously going to be much higher in
a country where people survive to get prostate
cancer than in a country where under-5
mortality is 200 per thousand. Also, much
of the concern over industrial atmospheric
discharge is about visibility-impairing particulates.
These discharges may have very
little direct health impact. Clearly trade in
goods that embody aesthetic pollution concerns
could be welfare-enhancing. While
Academic OneFile – Document – Let them eat pollution
production is mobile the consumption of
pretty air is a non-tradable.
The problem with the arguments against
all of these proposals for more pollution
in LDCS (intrinsic rights to certain
goods, moral reasons, social concerns, lack
of adequate markets, etc) could be turned
around and used more or less effectively
against every Bank proposal for liberalisation.
The language is crass, even for an internal memo. But look at it another way: Mr Summers is asking questions that
the World Bank would rather ignore-and, on the economics, his points are hard to answer. The Bank should make
this debate public.
Source Citation (MLA 8th Edition)
“Let them eat pollution.” The Economist, 8 Feb. 1992, p. 66. Academic OneFile, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?
Accessed 24 July 2017.
Gale Document Number: GALE|A11819818
POTENTIAL GAINS FROM TRADE IN DIRTY
INDUSTRIES: REVISITING LAWRENCE
Jay Johnson, Gary Pecquet, and Leon Taylor
Lawrence Summers has a long history of controversial statements.
Well before his comments in 2005 as then-president of Harvard University about the underrepresentation of women on faculties for
mathematics and science, Summers was the chief economist at the
World Bank. In that position, he penned a memo to his colleagues in
1991 that was leaked to the public, drawing heated criticism.1 In
1999, when President Bill Clinton nominated Summers as Secretary
of the Treasury, the controversy over Summers’ memo was revived
during his Senate confirmation hearings. Hundreds of articles were
posted on the Internet at that time attempting to sway public opinion
The controversy remains alive. Debate continues over the effect
that free trade or globalization has on developing nations and on the
environment, with the prevailing attitude that some trade must be
prohibited. Most developed nations therefore abide by the 1994 Basel
Convention, which bans exports of toxic wastes to developing countries, but the continuing shift of pollution-intensive production to
poor countries effectively exports toxics to them.2
Cato Journal, Vol. 27, No. 3 (Fall 2007). Copyright © Cato Institute. All rights
Jay Johnson is Assistant Professor of Economics at Southeastern Louisiana University. Gary
Pecquet is Assistant Professor of Economics at Central Michigan University. Leon Taylor is
Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Program at the Kazakhstan Institute of Management, Economics, and Strategic Research. The authors wish to thank Don Bellante, Bharati
Basu, and David Bowes for their useful comments on an earlier draft.
Boston Globe writers suggested in March 2001, as others apparently had previously, that
the memo was actually written by another economist, Lant Pritchett, but it was signed and
circulated at the World Bank under Summers’ name (Healy and Donnelly 2001).
For example, the U.S. share of net imports in petroleum consumed increased from 34.8
percent in 1973 to 60.3 percent in 2005 (USEIA 2006). Also, the water pollution due to
offshore extraction in the Caspian Sea is a leading environmental controversy in Kazakhstan,
As the World Bank’s chief economist, Summers ostensibly worked
to promote policies designed to “reduce global poverty,”3 and his
memo was supposed to advance the development of that policy. However, scanning dozens of sites addressing the World Bank memo, we
could not find one defending Summers. Rather than try to understand his position, the sites tried to smear his reputation and perpetuate the misunderstandings that have long motivated criticism of
free trade and economic development policies.
The statement in Summers’ memo that is most often mocked is: “I
think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the
lowest-wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that.” He
continues: “I’ve always thought that under-populated countries in
Africa are vastly under polluted.” Critics consistently characterize this
position to mean that he and the World Bank favored dumping toxic
wastes on poor people without their consent. Without an understanding of how gains accrue even to trades in toxic wastes, or how economic progress occurs, his comments certainly sound heartless.
Defending Summers therefore requires a better explanation as to
how these trades can result in gains to both richer and poorer nations.
Although Summers’ memo has been widely misinterpreted, his
premise is valid and yet virtually undefended before the public by
economists. Economic growth resulting from comparative advantage
is impeccable evidence of gains from trade in all industries, including
dirty industries, which arise from differences in values among various
populations and their evaluation of risks.
Potential Gains from Trade: A Marginal Analysis
The “impeccable” logic to which Summers refers is the principle of
comparative advantage applied to the handling of toxic wastes and to
movements of polluting industries among countries. The principle
suggests that a nation should export a good that it can produce more
cheaply (at a lower opportunity …
Purchase answer to see full