Neoliberalism revisited: Entrepreneurship, Consumerism, and Global Capital

Keira Gagne

This weeks readings focus on the concept of neoliberalism in African countries. The articles discussed issues of consumerism in a globalized world. These articles were interesting to read because it was interesting to learn about how capitalism can drastically impact social relations in a country.

Thomas’ article discusses the social relations between Black consumers and Jewish entrepreneurs in South Africa both during the Apartheid and afterwards. The article discusses the skin lightening venture of entrepreneurs Abraham and Solomon Krok. Thomas explores the history of skin lighteners and the changing demographic and reasons for purchasing this product. Thomas also mentions whether or not it is appropriate for businessmen who were born into a Jewish immigrant family to market to Black consumers. The Kroks’ relationships with Black consumers led them to dominate the skin lightening industry. However, Thomas discusses how the Kroks’ brand image changed once they encouraged consumers to follow dangerous directions such as using multiple lightening products.  Thomas claims that the Kroks’ are attempting to improve their reputation through providing financial support to an Apartheid museum.

Lee’s article discusses the entrepreneurs in the funeral industry who are benefiting from ongoing epidemics in South Africa.  She discusses three main issues with the funeral industry. First Lee discusses mobility. She discusses how different funeral practices causes debates regarding ensuring cultural practices are followed. The second issue Lee expresses is that African countries are becoming more westernized. The third issue is the lack of women’s involvement in funeral practices and industry. According to Lee, entrepreneurs take advantage of the epidemics in African countries.

Reflection Question

1. After reading Rebekah Lee’s article “Death on the Move: Funerals, Entrepreneurs, and the rural-urban nexus in South Africa,” is the burgeoning funeral industry in South Africa a result of the expanding global economy or the ongoing epidemics in the country such as HIV/Aids as discussed in Lee’s article? Is this a response to serious health concerns occurring in South Africa? Should there be more emphasis on treating these epidemics instead of providing more for the actual funerals?

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