The aim of this assignment is not simply to describe the commodity chain. Rather, the goal is to trace the product and analyze the processes involved in the production and consumption of the good from the perspective of economic geography. Include a discussion of the relationship between sites, explain why the commodity chain is organized the way that it is. What are the implications of this organization for workers? Environments? Consumers? Why is it important to examine this commodity chain?
Introduction: begin your paper with a discussion of the importance of a commodity chain, circuit or network analysis and some of its key concepts
Analysis of your chosen product (see elaboration below):
– the design/engineering of the object
– the geography of the item’s production
– the marketing/advertising of the product
– the retailing of the product
– your consumption of the product
Conclusion/future trends/further analysis
Your assignment should be seven pages double spaced (250 words per page). Include a bibliography including a list of articles and websites consulted (and the date accessed for websites). You can attach copies of advertisements, logos, photographs, or maps if you wish. These are not included in the eight page limit.
Questions to consider in your analysis:
1) design/ engineering:. How design intensive is the product? Is it possible to determine where design took place? What demographic target market does the design appeal to? How much investment has there been in the technical features and engineering of the product?
2) Production: What raw materials go into its manufacture? Where is the company that made the item headquartered? Where is this item produced? Has the geography of its production shifted in recent years? How? Why? What methods of production are used in the manufacture of this commodity? Is it characterized by labour-intensive sweatshop production? Does the company fit under “Fordist” or “Post-Fordist/flexible” models of production? Is it manufactured under a version of the Japanese production system? What model of innovation does the firm follow? Is it hand-made or subject to craft-based artisanal production? What are the conditions of employment in this industry? What type of workforce does the company employ to make this product (gender, age, skill)? How much are they paid? Does the company that manufactured this good have a corporate code of conduct? How successful is this code of conduct in ensuring that the rights of workers are upheld? Have there been consumer boycotts in recent years? Union campaigns? Anti-sweatshop campaigns? Why or why not? How successful have these been? How do the conditions and geographies of production of this commodity contrast with those of its consumption? Why is this significant?
3) marketing/advertising: What images are associated with the brand as manifest in its marketing and promotion? What meanings are created? How do these images reflect or contrast with meanings of the product forged at the site of production?
4) Retailing: Where did you purchase it? What types of stores or outlets sell the product? Why? What images or meanings are projected?
5) consumption:. What brand is it? Where is the market for this product concentrated internationally? What are the demographics of the market? How much did this item cost when you purchased it? Why did you decide to buy it (cost, design, function, features etc)? What does this item signify to you? Did you consider the geography of its manufacture when you purchased it? Did ethical considerations play a role in your consumption of it?
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