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Modern Slavery

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on 13 May 2014

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Transcript of Modern Slavery

There is a common misconception that slavery was completely gotten rid of in the 19th century when the Emancipation Act took effect. The harsh truth is that slavery still exists today in many ways in countries around the world. In Kevin Bales’ Ted talk “How to combat modern slavery”, he raises awareness to the problem of modern day slavery which is “a multibillion-dollar economy that underpins some of the worst industries on earth” (McManus, 2010). He points out that it is an “economic crime”, something that is not done simply to be cruel but to make a copious amount of money for very little or no cost. He describes real slavery to be forced labour of people who work “under a threat of violence and have no pay” who cannot simply walk away (Bales, 2010).
"How to combat modern slavery"
- Kevin Bales

Slave Culture
The social status of a person is defined by their social location which is their place in society allotted “based on race, class, gender, occupational role, religion” (Scott, 2012, p.65) and so forth.
Social Location
Ultimately this is what determines whether a person will have to live a life being pushed around by others in power or not. This also helps explain what kind of people are being targeted for slavery.
References
Bales, K. (2010, February). How to combat modern slavery [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/kevin_bales_how_to_combat_modern_slavery

Legassic, C. (2014). Theoretical Perspectives – Gendered Toy Advertising [Class handout]. Department of Sociology, Dawson College, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Ravelli, B., Webber, M., & Patterson, J. (2011). Sociology for everyone. Toronto: Pearson Canada.

Scott, M. (2012). “What is Oppression” Think Race and Ethnicity. Boston: Pearson

The mistreatment of vulnerable and poor human beings who have the right to be treated fairly just like everyone else has caused them to have a negative outlook towards themselves. The lives of slaves consist of hardly any happy interactions.
Power is the “ability to make others do something they would not otherwise do” (Ravelli, et al., 2011, p.203).
Power
Power is often misused in our society. In his talk Bales talks about exploitation - powerful people using forced labour as a means to make profit. It is in this way the rich keep getting richer and the poor get poorer. Oppression is the situation in which the power dynamics in society don’t allow people of low social status with fewer resources to gain “economic, educational, and social advancement” (Scott, 2012, p.65).
They are constantly kicked to the dirt by the slave holders this makes them feel as though they might be worth only so much. They go through negative socialization each day they are held in captivity. Using Cooley’s looking glass self which is the notion that we see ourselves as who we think others see us based on how they treat us (Ravelli, et al., 2011, p.23), it is evident that the slaves give themselves less value than they deserve.
Humans: Not for Sale !
Sairanga Cheemalavagupalli
Bales explains that the factors that resulted in almost 27 million slaves around the world in 2010 are:
“the population explosion”
increased vulnerability of large populations in developing countries due to:

“civil wars, ethnic conflicts, kleptocratic governments, disease” (Bales, 2010) &
absence of rule of law
Low employment
Poverty
Misuse of Power
A shocking fact that he presents is that the price of human beings has devastatingly dropped from being “expensive in the past” to “dirt cheap now” (Bales, 2010).
Overall this talk explores the slave culture still present in our society.
Sociology
To take an aspect of culture such as slave culture and study its origins, its evolution, its impacts on society, the factors that encourage it and so forth is what it means to be a sociologist. Sociology is “the systematic study of human groups and their interactions” (Ravelli, et al., 2011, p.4). It is a science that studies society as a whole (macrosociology) and as small parts focusing on individuals or smaller groups and their behaviour in different situations (microsociology) (Ravelli, et al., 2011, p.13).
Sociological Imagination
Charles Wright Mills’ version of a sociological perspective is the sociological imagination which is defined as the ability to perceive how dynamic social forces influence individual lives (Ravelli, et al., 2011, p.5). In a case where a boy from a poor village is offered a job so that he can earn for his family does not return to the village for months after being recruited by a shady man, it becomes the family’s personal trouble to find their son. On the other hand if the shady man came recruited many boys all of whom have a caring family, it becomes a social issue which requires all the families to take action as a group to get their boys back (Ravelli, et al., 2011, p.4). The process of stepping out of one’s shoes in order to tie in their problems with society is sociological imagination (Ravelli, et al., 2011, p.5).
Sociological Perspective
The sociological perspective is “a view of society based on the dynamic relationship between individuals and the larger social network in which we all live” (Ravelli, et al., 2011, p.4).
Let's think like a sociologist
Theoretical Perspective
Theoretical perspectives are essentially sociological perspectives. They provide us with different ways to research, analyze and explore the world from different angles. They are based on certain assumptions of values, beliefs and cultures in society. There are a few theoretical perspectives some of which are functionalism, conflict theory, feminism and symbolic interactionism.
Conflict Theory
The conflict theory will be used to explore Bales’ talk. This theoretical perspective views society to be based on conflicts between groups with different interests in society (Ravelli, et al., 2011, p.87). This theory states that social inequality causes those with privilege to seek to maintain power by the oppression of those with lower social status and that “economy is the driving force of society” (Legassic, 2014, p.1). If the example of slavery is considered, this theory would support the claim that it is allowed to exist in order to benefit the rich. The conflict theory observes society on macro-sociological level and does not go in depth to analyzing individual problems.
The targets are mainly people that reside in places of low socio-economic status and high unemployment. They are desperate for jobs so they can look after their families. Easy targets are areas that suffer from absolute poverty which contain people that cannot provide themselves with the basic necessities of life and relative poverty which contain people who have their basic necessities but are far from reaching the average standard of living of the working class (Ravelli, et al., 2011, p.209). Other targets are people ascribed the status of a slave meaning that they are born into slavery.
It is time to abolish slavery of all forms completely by using power for the good. Those of us with privilege must take a stand to help the vulnerable and help them gain sustainable freedom. This means providing them with resources to help them work towards an average standard of living instead of just freeing them from the slave holders and just left in a society where they will not be able to grow. In order to rid the world of slavery and prevent humans from ever being sold again, the problem of poverty must also be solved.
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