Negotiating Difference: Constructing Selves and Others in a Transnational Apparel Manufacturing Firm


Feldman, Shelley, and Stephanie Buechler. 1998. “Negotiating Difference: Constructing Selves and Others in a Transnational Apparel Manufacturing Firm.” The Sociological Quarterly 39 (4): 623–44.

Authors: Shelley Feldman, Stephanie Buechler


Research on immigrant women workers in the United States and Third World women employed by multinational corporations in export-enclaves has highlighted how global movements of capital and labor are expressed in changing labor processes, working conditions, and ethnic relations in the workplace. Notably absent from this body of literature are the ways in which rural, white American women respond to the new work environments offered by direct foreign investments in the United States. Using in-depth interviews with workers and observations of the workplace and the community we explore how the Japanese purchase of an apparel manufacturing firm in upstate New York reconstituted factory floor relations. In so doing, we extend interpretations of the social construction of the labor process by recognizing the racialized and ethnicized character of rural white women. We also show how both workers and managers construct stereotypic expectations of the other that are manipulated on the shop floor in the struggle for control, recognition, and appreciation.

Topics: Economies, Ethnicity, Gender, Women, Multi-National Corporations, Race Regions: Americas, North America, Asia, East Asia Countries: Japan, United States of America

Year: 1998

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