$$$ vs. $: The Corporation and the Worker

corporations-are-people-JPEGUpon reading the article Global Entertainment Media: Between Cultural Imperialism and Cultural Globalization, I was reminded of a Third Cinema class I had taken.  In the class, the relationship between the ‘owning class’ and the ‘working class’ was discussed. The owning class, as defined by Tanner Mirrlees, are ‘the few people who own and manage the corporation’ (Mirrlees, 61), while the working class is made up of ‘the many people who sell their labor power to that corporation in exchange for a wage’ (Mirrlees, 61).


A documentary that reminded me of this dynamic was Made in L.A. The story follows three Latina immigrant women, working in a Forever 21 sweatshop, and their three-year fight to win basic labor protection for the working class. In John Millers article Why Economists are Wrong About Sweatshops and the Anti Sweatshop Movement, he talks about what these women had to deal with in their working environment: ‘workers are denied the right to organize, suffer unsafe and abusive working conditions, and forced to work overtime, or are paid less than the living wage’ (Miller, 7). Though they aren’t working in a media corporation, it’s similar to the workers in the industry due to the fact that ‘they sell their labor power to their employers in exchange for the money they need to pay their rent/mortgage and utility bills and buy food and clothing’ (Mirrlees, 62). This is necessary for an exchange relationship; a corporations power and wealth for a workers minimum wage. The relationship is one that, in the eyes of the corporation, is purely profit based since ‘once hired and under contract, workers are legally obligated to submit to the media’s corporation’s right to direct their skills and talents in whatever way they decide’ (Mirrlees, 62).

If there was no exchange relationship to begin with between the corporation and the worker, what would that mean, though? Would there be less jobs for the worker? Less workers for the jobs? I’d say a little bit of both. Though it’s easy to say that mistreating the workers in the sweatshops, for example, or treating them in an unequal way is unfair, it’s important to see that the relationship is not completely one sided. The workers are skilled, and these skills are valid. By using their skills, they are earning money. Even though it’s not nearly enough to get by, it’s better then having no job. Now, it’s important to me that you understand that I’m not saying that the treatment of the workers, especially in Made in L.A. is fair, under any means. I personally think it’s wrong, but I’m using the example as a means of discussion. I am trying to point out that there is a dependency on each other, even if it’s hard to see. Though the relationship of the workers in production may have a healthier lifestyle then the woman in the sweatshops, it’s still important to see the drastic dynamic between the corporation and worker. Corporations and corporations, and the power dynamic will be apparent as long as there is a class division and workers who need an income.


Miller, John. “Why Economists Are Wrong About Sweatshops and the Antisweatshop Movement.” M.E. Sharpe, Inc, 2003. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.

“Made in L.A. – Trailer – POV | PBS.” YouTube. YouTube, 22 Aug. 2007. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.


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