Week 4 discussion post

The articles for this week revolved around neoliberalism and the global city, with articles looking from the funeral business to urban planning of cities. The article by Dolan and Roll looked at businesses in Africa which were implemented throughout the continent, where a company could sell products to ‘poor’ consumers through the BoP model. I found this article interesting because it analyzed many western companies such as Avon, Proctor and Gamble, Unilever, ect, and focused on how these companies are beginning to implement the idea of capitalism into the African culture. From this article, there are both good and bad aspects to this. Obviously the creation of jobs and as the author quotes ‘making markets for the poor’ (pg 126), is a positive, however the inclusive business idea and ‘making capitalism’, is a negative aspect of the this bottom of the pyramid economy. I found I could closely relate this article to Thomas’s article on Skin Lighteners, as this article also focused on using Africa as a target market for consumerism. Thomas’ article looked at the skin lightening industry in Africa, and viewed the progression of skin lighteners were first big in Europe, then as pale skin became to be seen as a sign of working indoors in a factory, having tanned skin was more popular for Europeans, and this was the time when skin lighteners became popular for Africans. As the author quotes ‘among black South Africans, skin-lightener sales did not peak until the 1970s’ (pg 264). I found this concept interesting because it appears to be what is rejected in the European market is then brought over to the African market as an afterthought because it was originally rejected in Europe. These two articles for me seemed similar because they both analyzed the market and economy in Africa and how since profits could not be made elsewhere or were already stable elsewhere, Africa was an after thought as to sell more products. The article by Lee looking at death and the business of death in Africa as well as Teppo and Houssay-Holzschuch’s article on spatial and neoliberal construction of townships brought together this weeks concept of consumerism and the global city for me through the urban planning of South Africa and the funeral business of South Africa. Although these concepts may be fairly new in South Africa, these concepts have been used for decades in other countries or continents, with a validity in their practices. The idea of a funeral ‘as a business’ was interesting to me because the author stated that funerals are ‘a good form of entertainment as anything’ (pg 227). This was an interesting idea to me because funerals are clearly a time of mourning, however in South Africa, clearly they provide a sort of entertainment for the citizens who attend the funeral. These concepts intrigued me, as often funerals are not thought of in this way. This article made me question that if funerals were a form of social gathering, what other forms of social gathering take place in South Africa which make a funeral seem like a somewhat joyous time to be social and reunite with friends and family? The article by Dolan and Roll also made me question western companies coming into Africa, as an obvious profit can be made for companies in Africa, so why is it that Africa is seen as a ‘last resort’ for companies to make profits on?


2 thoughts on “Week 4 discussion post

  1. Catherine Dolan and Kate Roll – The irony is neoliberal capitalism is the new reigning governance after fiscal incentives and privatization set in..precedents are set, laws are amended and corruption ensues. African markets are the bottom of the pyramid and that allows capitalism to do its ultimate job of generating economic growth that accumulates at the top, in the instance to the foreign investors. These are not individual ventures provided by Avon and Ismart laced with opportunity but an assimilation ploy and an extension of existing western domestic markets that are thirsty and do not even have to worry about it being a volatile venture if they can create the rules and have reliable statistics for models of growth, which have been provided in this case. Sure it might make people better off through NGO delivery systems and health correlational innovative product design but they are still not deciding their fate under the neo-liberal agenda and global economic leadership. Again this implicitly establishes a relationship of abuse, power and inequality to the world’s impoverished. Organic growth and creative capitalism are buzzwords used to lead the 3rd party observers of these practices astray. This idea of MNC’s w/ NGO’s seems passé and already heavily critiqued, these practices are very capitalist oriented condensing people to market actors, not assuring NGO’s and researchers are conducting themselves ethically (even with PRA approach) and simply making materialism seem like an answer that can be fit and moulded to liberate all, culture becomes altered and people are showcased as entrepreneurs when really they remain manipulated consumers and lucrative markets are exploited seemingly like colonialist expansion the neoliberal beast permeates and hides its colours well.. economic schematics of this should be called TdP.

    The article regarding the Krok brothers is fairly controversial but firstly, they were not the first to market their product (if that matters to anyone), secondly they were an identifiable minority and thirdly they did not discriminate to those they sold to (although their product had a specific appeal to underprivileged). Although an incredibly unsavoury idea these brothers were opportunists as mentioned in open discussion in class and were driven by the all mighty dollar. Could they be racially biased in every day discussion, I’m sure they could. Did their product ruin epidermal layers and deplete melanin, yes it did but the end goal was to achieve opportunity and freedom through measurable wealth growing up from a modest background as minorities. To accuse them is to attack the apartheid profiling completely, which is an issue that requires so much more extensive analysis and includes layers of necessary understanding. They were products of the time and place they just so happened to be brought into via migration and had no involvement in political leadership as well as oppressive colonial dominance. They likely pursued this museum again with a business oriented mind siding with popular politics and this does not make them great people nor root causes of the injustices suffered in South Africa.


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