Working for Walmart in China: Outsourcing, Gender and Retail Service Floor Struggles

Event Date: 

Thursday, October 25, 2018 - 5:00pm

Event Location: 

  • 4080 HSSB

Eileen Otis, Sociology, University of Oregon  (Franciscan Inn booked for Oct 24-25)

In 2002 Walmart became the first retailer to reach the top of the Fortune 500, replacing car manufacturer General Motors. It is now heralded as a “new template for global capitalism,” representing a fundamental shift in the economy resulting in the degradation of work conditions and wages in both factories and retail stores.  While a long-time supplier of goods sold in U.S. stores, China is now at the center of Walmart’s global retail expansion: The firm now operates over 400 stores across the country. Taking the perspective of its retail employees as a starting point, I show the effects of China’s institutional, social and cultural infrastructures on Walmart. While the firm endeavors to bring its American, logistics-driven business model to this mammoth consumer market, China is having a profound effect on the way the firm conducts business.