23 Jun 2010

Sample Essay: Cynthia Enloe's Analysis of Athletic Shoe Industry, US Companies and East Asian Laborers

Based on Enloe Cynthia’s writing, there is great wealth on the history of the athletic shoe industry. This research paper analyses Cynthia Enloe’s inspection of the athletic shoe industry as it relates to various United States companies and the labor patterns in East Asian countries.  To achieve this it focuses of three areas; the role of international politics in shaping the course of athletic shoe industries, the role of women in relation to daughter perspective in South Korea’s industrialization, and finally it highlights the contradictions between marketing of athletic shoe and labor practices in South Korea industries.

Manufacture of offshore sneakers was largely influenced by politics infused in the region during cold war. Enloe, (272) outlines that this caused several companies such as Nike, Reebok, Adidas, and Puma were forced to search for new locations. Industries which were associated with the United States thus managed to launch new factories around offshore. Militarization of sneakers occurred following agreements that were made between industrial owners who provided sites to the US for manufacture of military weapons, trainings and clothing, super power (US) and the industries (Enloe 272).

Based on Enloe’s, (272) argument athletic shoe production companies relied largely on cheap labor. This explains why they were contently hunting unskilled labor force. Due to this, most companies employing younger women who were desperate for a source of income. Enloe, (275) terms this category of labor as “daughters”. Similarly, factory owners took pride in substituting married women with unmarried novices. This was probably because such women had increased needs that would cause them crave for increased wages and therefore would not provide labor turnovers as expected by the companies. From Enloe’s, (275) writing it is clear that those who had attained high experience or senior positions were only retained if losing their skills was to cost the industry of its profit.  Such treatments contradict the marketing principle of athletic shoes industries. Most likely these company owners carried very minimal marketing or never did marketing at all. As such, when thousand of women workers became enlightened and resigned in pursuit of better pay, these industries got closed down Enloe’s (275). They only managed to pick up after the introduction of masculine labor. Enloe, (272) highlights that majority of such products are currently in China with few others found in Indonesia and Vietnam. Transition of athletic shoe companies was as a result of infused politics during cold war (Enloe 272).

South Korean government must have believed that “daughter” conception was relevant in preparing teenage girls into future women. Enloe, (273) argues that this could be used to explain why they placed emphasis on parents to make their daughters respectable and marriageable. Therefore the community accorded respect to women based on their financial status. Most South Korea’s industries used this notion to get labor turnovers from unskilled young women. Women or daughters who were not financially secure were stereotyped as doomed (Enloe 273). Since daughters were not ready to be doomed, they constantly lured into hard labor with low wages. This acted as a great boost to the government and multinational companies. Enloe (272) state that globalization of athletic shoe production was gender oriented. This because it majored on creating profits as opposed to satisfying workers. Due to this it was often characterized on girl child emphasis as opposed to boy child. The community expects daughters to provide for their parents and educate their brother instead of their younger sisters (Enloe 274). Younger women; daughter who were unable to satisfy such expectation and save for their future fiancées were perceived as doomed by the society.  Enloe, (274) outlines men in the South Korean society might have been lazy since they new they would get a young woman who would bring “decent dowries into marriage”(Enloe 274).


It is important to note that politics plays a critical role in development of industries. In most cases, those who are ready to cooperate with the ruling government are the ones who are likely to survive.

Work Cited

Enloe, Cynthia. “Daughters and Generals in the Politics of the Globalized Sneaker1“. Beyond Borders: Thinking Critically about Global Issues. Ed.  Rothenberg S. Paul. New York: Worth Publishers, 2005. 271-277.

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