Shipbreaking in the Chittagong region of Bangladesh supplies metal to meet the needs of the nation’s construction sector. The shipbreaking industry has received international attention for environmental contamination and workers’ insecurity. However, these issues have been framed without considering the actors that produce them and their associated motives. This paper illuminates the conflicting discourses regarding the industry between two divergent groups of actors. On the one hand, national and international NGOs collaborate to enforce a discourse focused on negative localized impacts. On the other hand, yard owners, yard workers, and local community members forge a counter discourse, focused on positive localized impacts and raising doubts about the origin of the environmental pollutants and occupational standards setting. National and international actors have so far missed the conflicting perspective of workers, yard owners, locals and NGOs. We contend that these divergent discourses involve scalar politics, with one discursive frame focused on localized impacts in order to leverage global resources, while the other situates local communities in the global world system; this confounding of scale leads to ineffective policy formulation. This shipbreaking case study provides a valuable lesson on the importance of listening to and including stakeholders at multiple scales when seeking policies to address localized impacts of a globalized industry.
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Mayer, A. L.,
Norman, E. S.
Uncovering discursive framings of the Bangladesh shipbreaking industry.
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