The Bunch of Grapes 1 _Research Project
Written by Alice Kim, Oct 2014
The Bunch of Grapes
A circular economy system, based on local small businesses in marginal areas.
This research project, “The Bunch of Grapes”, starts from a question in a wider context. “ Why is Global and social inequality getting worse?”
Mass manufacturing system & economic neoliberalism
graph1. captured from Introduction to Sociology (by Norton Sociology, 2009)
As can be seen the graph1. and the movie1., global inequality is getting serious and the gap between the rich and the poor is widening rapidly.
movie1. ‘Global Wealth Inequality-What you never knew you never knew’ (by TheRulesOrg, 2013)
Through analysing these two info graphics in more detail, I found two critical common factors. First of all, the starting point of global inequality in both of them is around the year 1800 . This period almost coincided with ‘The Industrial Revolution’, which led mass manufacturing processes between 1760 and 1820. Secondly, the speed at which the GDP gap is widening has been accelerating over the last 20 years. In the 1990s, some new economy theories were generated,such as ‘Neoliberal Capitalism’ and ‘The Global Value Chains’, which addressed free trade for efficiency and productivity.
From this period, many developed countries have started to build a huge number of factories in developing countries, such as China, India, Indonesia and Colombia, to lower the prices and increase the amount of products. This can be seen by graph Image 3, which describes the expansion of the global fashion brand, H&M, you can recognise that the growth rate is remarkable from the 1990s. This kind of big global brands are deteriorating the quality of life in developing countries, hiring vulnerable people to work in bad conditions and dominating local marketplaces.
graph2. Philip Kotler, 2009, Marketing Management, Pearson, p.462
“For most African exports, free and open markets are not the norm. Most markets are controlled, distorted or even closed. They are dominated by large firms with huge financial resources, advanced technologies and complex supply chains and capital structures.” (Andrew Rugasira, 2013, P. XXIX)
In the result of analysis of economic history over the last two hundred years, I was able to draw two big issues causing inequality. The first problem is the mass manufacturing system operated by global big firms, and the second is ambiguous supply chains caused by economic neoliberalism. The complex supply chain is destroying the local economy. As a response to these two big concerns, my major practical project is about boosting small businesses that preserve sustainable local supply chains, and supporting multi-directional globalisation.
“… just as small businesses are critical to the growth of western economies, smallholder farmers can become a powerful engine for rapid economic growth in Africa. They just need to be encouraged, equipped and empowered.” (Andrew Rugasira, 2013, pXVII)
To boost small businesses and bring them to high-valued markets, accessibility to the global market is one of the most significant task.
Andrew Rugasira (2011) ‘A good African Story: How a Small Company Built a Global Coffee Brand. Vintage Books: London
Philip Kotler (2009) Marketing Management, Pearson
Norton Sociology (2009) Introduction to Sociology
TheRulesOrg (2013) ‘Global Wealth Inequality-What you never knew you never knew’