Faculty Biography

Robert J. S. Ross

Robert J. S. Ross, Ph.D.

Emeritus Professor, Department of Sociology
Clark University
Worcester, MA 01610-1477

Email: rjsross@clarku.edu

Professional Website

Dr. Ross received a B.A. from the University of Michigan in 1963, and an M.A. and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1966 and 1975, respectively. He has been at Clark since 1972. He is the former Director of the International Studies Stream and was among the founders of the program in Urban Development and Social Change. He currently teaches on a part-time basis.


Current Research and Teaching

Slaves to FashionSince the 1980s, Dr. Ross has worked on the political economy of urban development and the analysis of global capitalism. He still does occasional work on the social movements of the 1960s, and is frequently interviewed about his role in those movements. Dr. Ross has worked as a speechwriter and policy advisor, and he writes occasional commentary for magazines. In 1995, he began research on the resurgence of sweatshops in the U.S. and global apparel industry, and he has given over 100 public lectures on the issue. His work on this topic has been published in The Nation, Foreign Affairs, Dollars and Sense, as well as a number of edited collections of research on globalization. His book, Slaves to Fashion: Poverty and Abuse in the New Sweatshops, was published in 2004.

Selected Publications

2011 "The Rag Trade as the Canary in the Coalmine: The Global Sweatshop 1980-2010" New Labor Forum 20(1): 42-49, Winter.

2009 "China, Asia and Labor Standards after the MFA." Asia and the Transformation of the World-system Volume XXXI, Political Economy of the World System. Editor, Ganesh Trichur. Paradigm.

2009 "Reflections on the Sociology Liberation Movement of 1968." Crisis, Politics, and Critical Sociology, Graham Cassano and Richard Dello Buono (eds), Boston and Leiden: Brill.

“From antisweatshop to global justice to antiwar: how the new New Left is the same and different from the old New Left.” In Transforming Globalization Challenges and Opportunities in the Post 9/11 Era. Edited by Bruce Podobnik and Thomas Reifer. Pages 111-121. Brill. (paperback version of 2005 publication)

2007 [With Kate Driscoll and other students] "Asia comes to Main Street and may learn to speak Spanish: Globalization in a poor neighborhood in Worcester."Journal of World Systems Research XIII:2http://jwsr.ucr.edu/volumnes/vol13/Derickson Ross-vol13n2.pdf

[With Shelly Tenenbaum] "Who Rules American?" Teaching Sociology No. 4 (Winter 2006): 65-85.

2005 "Sweatshop Labor: (Re)Framing Immigration." In David Croteau, William Hoynes, and Charlotte Ryan, editors, Rhyming Hope and History: Activists, Academics, and Social Movement Scholarship. Essays in Honor of William Gamson. University of Minnesota Press.

2005 "A Tale of Two Factories: Successful Resistance to Sweatshops and the Limits of Firefighting." Labor Studies Journal. Winter 2005/6.

2004 Slaves to Fashion: Poverty and Abuse in the New Sweatshop. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

2004 "From Antisweatshop to Global Justice to Antiwar: How the new New Left is the Same and Different From the old New Left." Journal of World Systems Research 10:1 287-319.

2003 "Racing to the bottom: international trade without a social clause." With Anita Chan. Third World Quarterly . 24:6. pp 1011-1028.

2003 John Shandra, Robert JS Ross and Bruce London, "Global Capitalism and the Flow of Foreign Direct Investment to Non-Core Nations, 1980-1996: A Quantitative, Cross-National Analysis." [Accepted for publication] International Journal of Comparative Sociology . v44 i3 p199(40).

2002 "The New Sweatshops in the United States: How New, How Real, How Many, and Why?" Chapter 5, in Free Trade and Uneven Development: The North American Apparel Industry after NAFTA. Edited by Gary Gereffi, David Spener, and Jennifer Bair. Temple University Press.

2002 "From North-South to South-South: The True Face of Global Competition." Foreign Affairs . Volume 81:5. Reprinted in Cooperation South . United Nations Development Programme. 2002 Annual Volume. Pp. 70-77.

2001 "The Decline of Labor Standards in The U.S. Apparel Industry." Globalization: Critical Perspectives , edited by G. Kohler and E.J.Chaves (New York: Nova Science).

2001 "Sweatshop Police." The Nation. September 3, 10. Pp. 6-7.

2000 "NAFTA and the Race to the Bottom." In Global Capitalism, Liberation Theology and the Social Sciences: An Analysis of the Structures of Dependency at the Turn of the Millennium . A. Tausch & P.M. Zulehner (eds). Commack, NY. Nova Scientific.

2000 "Countdown in Managua." The Nation. September 4, 2000. Pp. 25-27.

1998 "Influence of C. Wright Mills on Students for a Democratic Society: An Interview with Bob Ross." With Trevino, A. Javier Humanity & Society. v 22 n 3:260-277.

1990 Global Capitalism: The New Leviathan , with Kent Trachte, SUNY Press.

Selected Recent Professional and Public Lectures


August 3: Special Mini-Conference by the journal Critical Sociology: Power and Resistance: Critical Reflections, Possbile Futures Kick-Off Speaker on "Reflections on "The Sociology Liberation Movement."1968"

July 31: Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Social Problems. Panel on Labor, the Democrats and the 08 Election: Prospects and Perils

August 4: Panel on Emerging Peripheries: Brazil, Russia, India and China. Annual Meeting of American Sociological Association. "Sweatshops in China and the "Race to the Bottom" in Global Labor Standards."

September: Panel on Human Rights Paradigms and Movements. International Sociological Association Barcelona Congress. "Revisiting the social clause: what the post-MFA results show about the Race to the Bottom and labor rights as human rights."

______: Panel on Responses to the Emerging Global Plutonomy. "How do Workers Achieve Inclusion?"

October 1: Invited Lecture: Quinsigamond Community College, Worcester, MA: "Asia Comes to Main Street: Recent Immigration in Global Perspective"


March 28: Slaves to Fashion. Bloomfield College, New Jersey

March 29: State and Local Government Sweatfree Consortium Convening Meeting, State House, Harrisburg, PA: "Stopping the Race to the Bottom."

May 3: Panel at Harvard University "Sweatshop Challenges in Bangladesh; How you can campaign to help."

May 10: PEWS Conference on Asia and the World-System. St. Lawrence University. "China, Asia and Labor Standards after the Multi-Fiber Agreement.

August 11-14: Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association. Organizer, Regular Session, Work and the Work Place.
Presenter: Panel on University as a Site for Social Action: "The University Based anti-sweatshop Movement"
Panelist: Who Rules America? A Forty Year Retrospective"
Panelist: (Sociologists Without Borders): The Global Anti-sweatshop Movement.

October 30: University of Rhode Island, Honors Colloquium (Series: China Rising) "Sweatshops in China and the "Race to the Bottom" in Global Labor Standards"


March 2: Slaves to Fashion, Department of Sociology, University of San Francisco

March 17: Presentation on Jews and sweatshops to Jewish Organizing Initiative. Boston, MA

March 23: "Three women, Three Pillars of Decency for working people": Annual Women's History Month Lecture Worcester Women's History Project.

March 26: Jews and the garment District, to Humanistic Jewish congregation K'hal Braira, Newton, MA

March 29: Combining Activism with an Academic Career, keynote speech to Graduate Student Research conference, Clark University

March 30: Slaves to Fashion and Three Pillars of Decency. Brandeis University Department of Sociology

April 4: Slaves to Fashion, Assumption College

May 4: "Movements and Politics" Conference on Assessing 40 years of Democratic Activism, University of California at Santa Barbara

August 4: Three Women, three Pillars of Decency. World Fellowship Center

August: Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association. 8/14 Dicussant, Panel on Cities in Global Capitalism - 8/12 Discussant, Panel on Social Movements and the World Social Forum


January 20: Public Forum on Slaves to Fashion Sponsored by the Harvard Trade Union Program, Labor and Worklife Program, Harvard Law School.

January 24: Brown bag presentation at AFL-CIO headquarters, Washington, DC. Slaves to Fashion.

February 7: Slaves to Fashion Talk, Co-sponsed by the Humanities Center and the Campus Alliance for Progressive Politics and Action (CAPPA) University of Hartford.

March 3: Seminar at University of California Berkeley, Institute for Industrial Relations Berkeley.

March 3: Slaves to Fashion. Sweatfree Bay Area Campaign Kickoff at New College, San Francisco.

March 16: Talk and discussion, University of Connecticut: Slaves to Fashion.

April 2: Summary and Century-long Overview. Conference on Constructing Markets for Conscientious Consumers.

April 4: Slaves to Fashion, Oakland University, Michigan.

May 23-24: Summary Talk, The Enfranchisement of Labor in the 21st Century at "The End of Global Textile Quotas: Understanding the New Shape of the World Economy." Labor and Worklife Program, Harvard Law School. Conference on May 23-25, 2005.

August 18: Slaves to Fashion, World Fellowship Center Conway, NH.

August 12: Co-Chair, Conference on Labor and Globalization (a conference of the Sections on Labor, Political Sociology and Political Economy of the World System of the American Sociological Association), Philadelphia. Paper: Freeing the Slaves to Fashion; Chair: Session on Auto Textile Industries in Mexico; Moderator: Dinner Panel of Labor Laborers.


January 31: "Exploited Labour: Social Evil or Economic Necessity?" Panelist, Mount Allison University, New Brunswick, Canada.

January 31: Keynote Speech, "Slaves to Fashion." Mount Allison University, New Brunswick, Canada. Conference and Teach-in on Sweatshops.

March 22: Invited Lecture. "Slaves to Fashion." Fraser Center for Workplace Issues, Luncheon Research Seminar, Wayne State University, Center for Urban, Labor and Metropolitan Affiars.

March 25: Panelist on screening of Fog of War . Bijou Cinema. Worcester, MA.

March 26: Respondent to Screening of Rebels with a Cause ; Hartford Independent Media Center.

April 24: Panelist on Global Labor and Sweatshops, Global Studies Association. "Resistance to Sweatshops." [As given: "A Tale of Two Factories."]

April 24: Panelist, Global Labor and Poverty, Global Studies Association. "The Rise and Fall and Rise of Sweatshops in the USA." [as given: Three Pillars, Five Women. The Rise and Decline and Rise (and hopefully) Decline of Sweatshops.]

August: Panelist, American Sociological Association, Panel on "Student Activism and the Labor Movement": "Components of Successful Antisweatshop Activism." San Francisco.

October 17: Panelist, Community Economic Forum, Worcester, MA: Low wage labor.

October 21: Friends of the Southborough (MA) Library. "Slaves to Fashion."

November 10: Friends of the Goddard Library, Clark University. "Slaves to Fashion."

December 11: "Human Rights and Labor Rights" Amnesty International Rights Day Conference, panelist. Boston Public Library.


February 28: University of Utah. Sociology Department Colloquium: South-South: Reframing labor standards and world trade

March 27: University of Tennessee at Chattanooga: Invited Speaker for Human Rights Week. "Labor Rights as Human Rights: Free Trade, The WTO and Sweated Labor."

April 23: Eastern Connecticut State University (Willimantic) : "Globalization, Sweatshops, and the New International Movement for Social Justice.

April 25: Brown University: Workshop on immigration to New England Cities.

May 1: University of California at Santa Barbara: Keynote speech to student pre-conference on May Day and globalization.

May 3: University of California at Santa Barbara: Panelist at Conference on Critical Globalization Studies. "Global Capital/Global Labor: universal standards and the future of solidarity"

December 5: Invited Plenary Presentation: National network of Committees on Occupational Safety and Health. "The Global Race to the Bottom: Sweatshops, and the New International Movement for Social Justice." Detroit. December 5.

December 8: Colloquium presentation. "Infant mortality down, inequality up, poverty level: what's up in New York City?" School of Public Health, University of Michigan. December 8.