Why Does Capitalism Feel so Right? Ethical Imaginaries of Prison Labor and Sisterhood Solidarity

Publikation: KonferencebidragPaperForskning


Ethical consumerism and commodity activism have been studied by scholars focused on global helping and transnational activism. Doing good for others links the traditional humanitarian principle of a shared humanity with mundane micro-practices that aim at personal gratification, such as the click of the mouse, an e-signature, or what has been previously critiqued as “shopping well to save the world.” This paper theorizes from existing scholarship and a new critical case to explain how linking consumption with ‘helping’ remakes capitalist exploitation into gendered solidarity. A fashion company’s brand is based on their controlled supply chain with labor from women inmates in developing country prisons. Combining ethnography and a critical discourse analysis, the paper explicates the critical turn of framing ‘ethical’ capitalism through intimization of the relationship between feminine laborers and their ‘sister’ consumers. This commodified compassion distinguishes “Made in Jail” luxury from sweatshop laborers on one hand and from chain-gangs repairing US highways on the other. Humanitarian logics enable the unfree labor of racialized capitalism by making visible the beneficence of those who profit. Understanding the structure of feelings undergirding these imaginaries will help us to understand why capitalism feels so right.
Publikationsdato1 dec. 2022
Antal sider18
StatusUdgivet - 1 dec. 2022
BegivenhedImaginaries - Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Danmark
Varighed: 1 dec. 20222 dec. 2022


LokationCopenhagen Business School