Towards a better future?
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This thesis seeks to explain why labor conditions did not improve in the Bangladeshi ready-made garment industry since the Rana Plaza disaster in 2013. These improvements did not materialize, despite commitments of the Bangladeshi government and ready-made garment industry, and the emergence of corporate social responsibility programs, shortly after the disaster. To explain this gap between promise and reality, a critical realist ontology and a historical materialist framework based on Gramscian and Poulantzian theory are adopted. Informed by critical realism and historical materialism, the empirical analysis shows that the disaster occurred due to decades of Bangladeshi neoliberalism, which made the legitimacy of neoliberal sourcing practices by transnational corporations deteriorate in the West. In response, transnational corporations initiated corporate social responsibility programs that primarily sought to protect their dominant position in transnational production by showing their ethical side, without entailing structural concessions regarding labor conditions. Additionally, caused by the economic consequences of these programs and the aftermath of the Rana Plaza disaster itself, the Bangladeshi economy experienced a deeply entrenched crisis, which the Bangladeshi state attempted to resolve by becoming increasingly authoritarian and repressive towards RMG workers
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen