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Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy and Tsotsi

The book Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy by Kevin Bales explores the stories of contemporary slavery. The investigation of ‘new slavery’ conducted by the author links to the problems of the global economy and the underlying motive of the movie Tsotsi. Tsotsi was released in 2006 and was highly acclaimed by the public for its emotional weight. Both the book and the film emphasize the problems of the economy in developing countries.

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The movie Tsotsi focuses on the life of young Johannesburg gang leader Tsotsi. The name Tsotsi is not the character’s actual name, and it could be loosely translated as ‘thug’ in Johannesburg slang. Previously known as David, Tsotsi ran away from home and his abusive father after the death of his mother several years earlier from the events of the film. The main character renounces his name and prefers to be called Tsotsi. Combining that fact with the film’s title emphasizes that the movie is mainly focused on the life and personality of a young gang leader more than it is about the life of a particular individual.

The movie explicitly pictures the lives of young gangs and homeless children in economically developing countries, focusing on the survival aspect and lack of feelings and compassion from the main character. Tsotsi is ruthless and cruel in his actions but does not experience any remorse as two of his main principles are focused on working at the moment and never thinking about his past. By blocking his memories from the past. Tsotsi tries to ensure his safety and establish methods that help him and his gang members in surviving.

The theme of surviving is used in the film to thoroughly explore the challenges that homeless children experience in economically poor developing countries. The members of Tsotsi’s gang cooperate in mugging and robbery but experience trust issues with Tsotsi, who commands the group and recognizes that in the end, there is only him and his interests that matter. The flashback segments reveal the core reasons for Tsotsi’s inability to trust other people. The viewer witnesses how in a series of events, Tsotsi lost his mother to the police raid, and his father killed his dog. The movie’s message tells the viewer that there are many children like this, and there are many of Tsotsi nowadays. The problem of Tsotsi’s violent survival could potentially take over his grownup phase and make him a violent man. However, the story of Tsotsi also illustrates that even the most ruthless and violent individuals hold the emotional capacity of sympathy, and every wrong person could eventually become good. There needs to be an improvement in economic conditions for children in developing countries to stop the occurrence of cases like Tsotsi.

The book Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy, similarly to the movie Tsotsi emphasized the economically conditions that people have to face and survive in developing counties and the problem of contemporary slavery. Bales notes that the problem is still present in the society due to the world’s ignorance. The author notes that the world and society needs to know the fact that there are still more than twenty seven million slaves in the world and raise awareness to the problem. To illustrate his arguments, he implies in the book that the society is widely concerned about destruction of the rain forests, but dismisses the fact that slave labor is used in the destruction process. Bales acknowledges that awareness is the main key for action and encourages the current generation to take action and stop slavery all around the world.

The book centers on the downsides of globalization and economic development in poor developing countries and acknowledges that the actual liberation of modern slavery would only partially solve the problem. Bales provides his ‘rough calculations’ to determine the contribution that slave labor puts into the world economy (2012, p.64). According to the author, the yearly profit from slave labor is close to $13 billion (Bales, 2012). However, the slave labor in poor developing countries is valued much less than in developed countries, which means that the real numbers could be two to three times higher.

To answer why and how people have been left out of regional progress, the author draws a comparison between ownership and fixed asset management. According to Bales, instead of ownership of colonies, the society shifted towards economic exploitation of the same countries. The book emphasizes that what transnational companies do today is what European countries did in the past by exploiting natural resources and low-cost labor. Even though the companies use the economic benefits from such regions, they are not responsible for the entire population. They do not need to care for infants, elderly, injured, or sick individuals. Moreover, according to Bales, the slaves are consumable items, and their cost is not included in the price of the final product. The overall message the book gives the reader is that transnational companies use low-cost labor but do not care for the workers or the environment, which leads to inhuman working conditions and the population’s dependency.

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In conclusion, both the book and the film emphasize the problems of the economy in developing countries. Tsotsi lets the viewers witness how poor economic conditions in the country influence the population and homeless children. Bales’ contribution to the topic with the book Disposable People explains that economic condition in developing countries occur from exploitation of low-cost labor by transnational organizations and their unwillingness to contribute to the countries’ environment.

Reference

Bales, K. (2012) Disposable people: New slavery in the global economy (3rd ed.). University of California Press.

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StudyCorgi. "Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy and Tsotsi." November 17, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/disposable-people-new-slavery-in-the-global-economy-and-tsotsi/.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy and Tsotsi." November 17, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/disposable-people-new-slavery-in-the-global-economy-and-tsotsi/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy and Tsotsi'. 17 November.

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