This book argues that larger flaws in the global supply chain must first be addressed to change the way business is conducted to prevent factory owners from taking deadly risks to meet clients’ demands in the garment industry in Bangladesh.

Using the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster as a departure point, and to prevent such tragedies from occurring in the future, this book presents an interdisciplinary analysis to address the disaster which resulted in a radical change in the functioning of the garment industry. The chapters present innovative ways of thinking about solutions that go beyond third-party monitoring. They open up possibilities for a renewed engagement of international brands and buyers within the garment sector, a focus on direct worker empowerment using technology, the role of community-based movements, developing a model of change through enforceable contracts combined with workers movements, and a more productive and influential role for both factory owners and the government. This book makes key interventions and rethinks the approaches that have been taken until now and proposes suggestions for the way forward. It engages with international brands, the private sector, and civil society to strategize about the future of the industry and for those who depend on it for their livelihood.

A much-needed review and evaluation of the many initiatives that have been set up in Bangladesh in the wake of Rana Plaza, this book is a valuable addition to academics in the fields of development studies, gender and women’s studies, human rights, poverty and practice, political science, economics, sociology, anthropology, and South Asian studies.

chapter 1|18 pages


How do we understand the Rana Plaza disaster and what needs to be done to prevent future tragedies

part I|44 pages

Leading to the disaster

chapter 2|26 pages

The longue durée and the promise of export-led development

Readymade garment manufacturing in Bangladesh

chapter 3|17 pages

Off the radar

Subcontracting in Bangladesh’s RMG industry

part II|52 pages

Dealing with the aftermath

chapter 4|21 pages

Opportunities and limitations of the Accord

Need for a worker organizing model

chapter 6|15 pages

Spaces of exception

National interest and the labor of sedition

part III|58 pages

Rethinking solutions in Bangladesh

chapter 7|6 pages

Bangladesh’s private sector

Beyond tragedies and challenges

chapter 8|18 pages

Post-Rana Plaza responses

Changing role of the Bangladeshi government

part V|32 pages

A way forward

chapter 13|29 pages

The evolving politics of labor standards in Bangladesh

Taking stock and looking forward