Unravelling the Rag Trade: Immigrant Entrepreneurship in Seven World Cities

Unravelling the Rag Trade: Immigrant Entrepreneurship in Seven World Cities

Unravelling the Rag Trade: Immigrant Entrepreneurship in Seven World Cities

Unravelling the Rag Trade: Immigrant Entrepreneurship in Seven World Cities

Synopsis

The garment industry is one of the world's largest industries, yet there are few sustained examinations of its importance to the global economy and the very vital role that immigrant entrepreneurship has played. Focusing on the garment industry in seven world cities -Paris, London, Birmingham, Amsterdam, New York, Miami and Los Angeles- this book tackles the complex relationship between the development of immigrant entrepreneurship and the shift to global, post-industrial urban economies. The interconnections among immigrant entrepreneurs, social networks, market conditions and regulatory matters are thoroughly explored in a comparative way. Starting from the idea that general social, economic and political processes manifest themselves in ever changing, historically specific shapes, the contributors offer intriguing insights into the dynamics of entrepreneurial management against the backdrop of such processes as: the differential spatial impact of economic restructuring; the significance of governance at various levels; and the conditional use of social capital. With contributions from leading experts in the field, this is a must for those wishing to supplement their knowledge in globalization, labour, economics, immigration and the garment industry broadly speaking.

Excerpt

This book is about immigrant entrepreneurship in advanced economies. In particular, it is about immigrant contractors in major international centres of garment production such as Paris, London, Birmingham, Amsterdam, New York, Miami and Los Angeles. It is not the first book on immigrant entrepreneurship or ethnic entrepreneurship, as some authors prefer to call it, in this sector of the economy. But all the previous books, save a handful, focus on one specific national or local case. International comparisons are obviously thin on the ground, which is one of the weaker features of the study of immigrant entrepreneurship in general and even more so in sectors as global as the manufacture of garments. This is precisely why this book should fill a gap.

The book evolved from a project initiated by the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies (IMES) at the University of Amsterdam. The project was launched as an interdisciplinary case study of Turkish entrepreneurship in the Amsterdam garment industry, but allowed for international comparison from the onset. The first practical step in that direction was to organize an international workshop in 1995 attended by leading experts from Europe and the United States. The workshop was intended to break new theoretical ground and resulted in the publication of an edited volume (Rath 2000b). The next step was to focus on the garment industry. We invited distinguished researchers from France, Great Britain and the United States who were well versed and experienced in the field to play a role and they did so on the basis of our comprehensive research plan. We held a preliminary meeting of all the contributors in Amsterdam in January 1998. We discussed each paper carefully, and formulated the overall structure of issues that each contributor was to address as well as the large themes for the whole book. We held a second meeting in January 1999, at which we commented on the individual chapters and refined the integration of each contribution around the central themes of the book. These international meetings reinforced our ability to integrate the chapters around the central themes. This book is the ultimate result.

A number of organizations helped fund this endeavour. First of all, the support from the IMES and the Committee for Social Oriented Research (CMO) at the University of Amsterdam allowed us to develop an ambitious interdisciplinary and international comparative research programme on immigrant entrepreneurship, which is still in full swing. The Fund for Internationalizing the Social Sciences of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), the Amsterdam office . . .

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