Throughout this course, a major concern has been to show how the demand of the antisweatshop movement that we not only respond to, but take responsibility for, economic injustices, no matter how distant, is an intensely controversial one. Claims by campaigning groups such as Oxfam and Christian Aid that consumer demand for cheap branded goods perpetuates poverty wage levels in the sweatshop industries are countered by claims from the pro-market lobby which point in an altogether different economic direction. Whether the issue is one of factory sweatshops in East Asia, or further afield in Mexico and Central America, or indeed worker exploitation more generally in relation to the agricultural foodstuffs that we eat and drink, there are pressures on us to respond to the controversial demands thrown up by life in a globalised world.
As part of understanding the nature of such demands and the claims that back them up, I have also been keen to show how events often thought about as distant from a particular audience, such as shopkeepers, retailers or consumers, can be drawn closer by political appeals to evoke an immediate response. Equally, it is possible to find ourselves distanced by the sheer complexity of global events so that any response, immediate or otherwise, may often appear futile or pointless. In this way, when it comes to matters of global injustice, the distinction between what is near and what is far may not be best defined by mere physical distances; instead, political demands and global processes are involved in making new kinds of distances and proximities.