Book of the week: No rich without the poor

7th November 2003 at 00:00

Tales from a Globalizing World
Edited by Daniel Schwartz
Thames amp; Hudson pound;19.95

It was Disraeli who coined the phrase "The Two Nations" to describe the social and economic gulf that separated the rich from the poor in Victorian England. Apart from the occasional rough sleeper outside the opera, rich and poor can still appear to inhabit different planets. But it wasn't true in Disraeli's time, and it's not true now. Without the poor there would be no rich, and vice versa.

Tales from a Globalizing World seeks to underline the point through a series of photographic essays focusing on a set of apparently unconnected case studies. We start with a growing Chinese metropolis on the Pearl River Delta and end with a religious cult in Brazil, having taken in Belgian workers, child prostitutes in India and Nepal, Bosnian villagers, and American townsfolk along the way.

The linking thread is globalisation, all too often in the familiar form of ruthless economic exploitation of the vulnerable by the ever-expanding demands of the affluent. The city of Guangzhou is growing rapidly and aims to supplant Hong Kong as China's financial centre, but its growth comes from the unremitting work of peasants who drift in to work long hours in Dickensian - or Disraelian - squalor.

Read more in this week's TES Friday magazine

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