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Sweatshops

The “sweatshop” concept, which originated during the Industrial Revolution in 19th-century England, refers to a workplace where workers were employed for piecework under a subcontracting system. In this system, business owners had no contracts with the sweatshop workers individually. Instead, they hired middlemen to manage workers and workshops on their behalf. The middlemen, whose contracts were based on the piecework factory workers performed, pressured workers to make their productivity rates as high as possible.

The subcontracting system also enabled middlemen to earn more by maximizing the margin between what they received for contracts and what they paid workers. The lower the workers’ wages, the greater the profits for middlemen. Thus, profits were derived from the “sweat” of workers exploited by business owners represented by middlemen who ...

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