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11. Crime  

Asif Efrat

This chapter studies the joint efforts of states to tackle crime through bilateral or multilateral action. The criminal activities that fuel global concern are transnational in nature; they involve more than one country and thus require an internationally coordinated response. These transnational criminal activities involve illicit flows; that is, the movement between countries of people, goods, or money. What makes these flows illicit is that they are prohibited by the laws of the country that is the source of the flows and/or the laws of the country receiving them. Smuggling drugs or firearms across borders; laundering illegally obtained funds through international financial transactions; the sale of women to engage in sex work—these are some examples of the transnational flows that constitute the illicit global economy. The chapter examines each of these flows, the challenge of measuring them, and their relationship with globalization, before turning to the efforts against them.

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9. Environment and climate  

Hayley Stevenson

This chapter begins by looking at mainstream and critical perspectives on the relationship between globalization and the environment. It shows how race and gender are implicated in the distribution of environmental harms, and how clean and safe environments in the Global North often come at the expense of communities in the Global South. A case study of green technology reveals that this asymmetry also characterizes efforts to transition to more sustainable societies. There are four key perspectives on globalization and the environment: liberal environmentalism, eco-Marxism, environmental justice, and ecofeminism. The chapter then turns to the topic of global governance to see how environmental multilateralism has developed over the past five decades, and the tensions that remain between global rules on trade and the environment.

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5. Finance  

Lena Rethel

This chapter focuses on the Global Political Economy (GPE) of finance. It begins by exploring the key pillars of the GPE of finance, starting with money, currencies, and the international monetary system, before examining the dynamics of credit and debt. While money is ubiquitous, its usages are characterized by great variety and so are the practices—economic, political, and cultural—to which money gives rise. The chapter then looks at both public and private mechanisms which were established to govern global finance. Recurring financial crises are a key feature of the Global Political Economy. These crises can be triggered in different segments of the global financial system, including currency and debt markets, and can result from shocks outside the financial economy such as the Covid-19 pandemic. The chapter also considers different ideas that may shape the international organization of credit, such as Islamic finance.

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14. Global governance  

Richard Jolly and Thomas G. Weiss

This chapter discusses ‘global governance’, the term now used widely to analyse the international system. Global governance consists of collective efforts to identify, understand, and address worldwide problems and processes that go beyond the capacities of individual states. The question of how to improve global economic governance can be understood by addressing the main ‘gaps’ in the international system: knowledge, norms, policies, institutions, leadership, and compliance. The chapter then presents three illustrations of current issues in global governance—and the gaps therein—to help in understanding international responses (both weak and strong) to communicable diseases, economic instability, and child welfare. Ultimately, addressing global governance problems requires more robust intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

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Edited by Nicola Phillips

Global Political Economy explores the breadth and diversity of this topic and looks at the big questions that matter today. It addresses essential topics and themes, such as poverty, labour, migration, and the environment. With a strong emphasis on ‘globalising’ the study of this subject, the text introduces the idea that it matters who is talking and writing. It explains that there are different ways of seeing the world, and that bringing together different theoretical and methodological perspectives adds to the depth and richness of understanding. In addition, chapters look at globalism and neoliberalism, finance, trade, production, health, climate change, inequality, crime, migration, and global governance.

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4. Globalization and neoliberalism  

Jacqueline Best

This chapter evaluates the contested concepts of globalization and neoliberalism, and looks at their role in Global Political Economy (GPE). There are significant debates about the political salience of globalization, with hyperglobalists, sceptics, and transformationalists disagreeing on its implications for the power of the state. Scholars also disagree about when the era of globalization began. Meanwhile, neoliberalism is a set of economic ideas and policies built upon a belief in the ‘free market’ as an unquestionable value in political and economic life. Neoliberal globalization has increased living standards in many parts of the world while also intensifying inequality along the lines of class, race, and gender. At the heart of debates about neoliberalism and globalization are three core puzzles: whether they are primarily depoliticizing or repoliticizing strategies; whether they are best understood by looking at global-level processes or at changes in everyday life; and whether their power is primarily material or ideational.

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8. Health  

Simon Rushton

This chapter describes a wide range of contemporary health challenges. It begins by assessing what it means to be healthy. The Covid-19 pandemic, and the response to it, have brought to the fore and shed new light on many of the issues that are core to Global Political Economy (GPE). Despite spectacular advances, there are huge inequalities in health in the world today, both within and between countries. Improving health requires both prevention and cure: public health efforts to protect and promote the health of populations, and healthcare services that are accessible to all in times of need. The chapter then considers how the social, economic, and commercial determinants of health can best be understood by adopting a GPE lens. A GPE framework can also reveal the challenges the world faces in its attempt to achieve universal access to quality healthcare.

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2. How to study Global Political Economy  

Leonard Seabrooke and Kevin L. Young

This chapter discusses the question of how to study Global Political Economy (GPE), presenting three arguments. First, it makes the case for why the study of GPE is fundamentally exciting and wonderful. GPE is exciting because of its sheer scale and potential comprehensiveness in offering macrosocial explanations for the operation of the world. This fundamentally interdisciplinary orientation is very different from other areas of study, and it makes GPE a refreshing contrast to a lot of conventional thinking within the social sciences. The chapter also argues that the study of GPE is really hard. In order to navigate both the wonderfulness and the challenges of studying GPE, a particular conceptual device can be tremendously helpful. The chapter then identifies the different ‘modes’ of intellectual activity that operate within GPE scholarship: critique, advocacy, and discovery.

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3. How to think about Global Political Economy  

Benjamin J. Cohen

This chapter examines the question of how we should think about Global Political Economy (GPE), and offers a multitude of theoretical approaches and perspectives. Perspectives can be distinguished from one another along five key dimensions: ontology, agenda, purpose, boundaries, and epistemology. At the most general level, the field is divided between two broad approaches, described as either orthodox or heterodox theoretical perspectives. Orthodox perspectives share a preference for a state-centric ontology, positivism, closed disciplinary boundaries, and rigorous methodology. They may be subdivided into three main variations: liberalism, realism, and constructivism. Heterodox perspectives are less state-centric, agendas are broader and more normative, boundaries are more open, and methodology is less formal. They include a variety of system-level theories, critical theory, and approaches that seek to extend the boundaries of the field in one direction or another. Fundamentally, our thinking about GPE should be ruled by two paramount principles: pragmatism and eclecticism.

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10. Inequality  

Eduardo Ortiz-Juarez and Andy Sumner

This chapter explores income inequality in the global political economy. Income inequality matters for intrinsic and instrumental reasons, and intersects with inequalities between social groups based on gender, race, and other factors. There are three ways to think about income inequality at a global level: ‘international inequality’, ‘world inequality’, and ‘global inequality’. One can say that international inequality and world inequality have unambiguously declined since 1980. However, the magnitude of the decline depends on whether the size of countries' populations is taken into account. Meanwhile, national inequality refers to differences in income between individuals within a country. The chapter then discusses poverty. Ultimately, explanations for patterns of inequality in the contemporary period can be traced to many of the dynamics associated with globalization, particularly the reorganization of the global economy around global value chains (GVCs) and the implications for countries pursuing ‘late development’.

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1. Introduction  

Nicola Phillips

This introductory chapter provides an overview of the ‘what, where, and who’ of Global Political Economy (GPE). GPE is a contemporary field of study which first took shape in the 1960s and 1970s under the label ‘International Political Economy’ (IPE). At its core, GPE is the study of the forms of power—economic, political, material, and social—which shape how the world operates. Despite their names, IPE and GPE have both been criticized for their lack of a ‘global’ viewpoint. This book aims to make a real contribution to the project of GPE as a genuinely ‘global’ field of study. GPE is—and needs to be—a genuinely interdisciplinary field, reflecting the best of the spirit of political economy. The chapter then highlights the value of diversity in the academic field of GPE. It explores how this book is organized and what it offers as a resource.

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12. Labour and work  

Matthew Alford

This chapter illustrates the complex and contested relationship between global production and labour. The mode of global production has changed dramatically since the 1970s. Since the 1990s, corporations have outsourced the production of goods to suppliers around the world. At the core of this contemporary form of global production is the ability of lead firms to profit through advanced sourcing strategies, economies of scale, and branding. This gives corporations significant bargaining power over their fragmented and geographically dispersed supplier base. In the contemporary global economy, conditions of poverty and marginalization can be attributed not only to exclusion from employment, but also to the adverse incorporation of precarious workers into global production. The chapter then considers the role of national governments in the governance of labour in global production, before looking at the impact of e-commerce and automation on the future of work.

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13. Migration  

Stuart Rosewarne and Nicola Piper

This chapter explores the transition in the dominant policies and practices that have impelled the momentum in international migration as a defining feature of globalization. It begins with a brief survey of current policy priorities, before considering some dominant theories of migration. The securitization of national borders by many OECD governments has enabled the restriction of rights to migrate and privileged certain groups of migrants over others. Labour migration has come to be privileged over other forms of migration, but often involves temporary work visas and significant vulnerability for migrant workers. The global movement to protect migrants' labour rights has had generally limited impact, but with some notable successes and continued momentum. Ultimately, migration continues to be politically and socially contentious in many parts of the world, adding to the vulnerability of many migrant workers.

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7. Production and business  

Kate Macdonald

This chapter addresses global production, which has powerful effects on the incomes, working conditions, and development opportunities of populations around the world. It is not surprising that the organization and regulation of global production have become one of the most contentious subjects of debate within the field of Global Political Economy (GPE). The chapter confronts several difficult questions linked to these debates. Who does the work of global production, and how has its organization changed over time? Who exercises power within evolving systems of global production, and what winners and losers do such arrangements produce? How is global production governed, and with what consequences for labour rights and the environment? In exploring these questions, analytical lenses drawn from a range of political economy perspectives help us to make sense of the complex economic and political forces through which the organization and governance of contemporary global production is shaped and contested.

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15. State power and geopolitics  

Andrew Hurrell

This chapter covers three dimensions in answering questions about the role of state power and geopolitics in the Global Political Economy (GPE). The first answer focuses on how changes in the global economy affect the nature and the effectiveness of the economic instruments available to governments as they pursue their foreign policy goals. The second cluster of answers focuses on the ways in which politics and economics are bound together in the construction and evolution of economic institutions and economic orders. The third cluster of answers accepts the need to think in terms of power operating within economic orders but this time with the causal arrow flowing from politics into the economy. Ultimately, the dynamics of the international political system are what drive the foreign economic policies of governments, shape the states and societies making up the global system, and help explain the character and operation of the global economy.

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6. Trade  

Erin Hannah and James Scott

This chapter assesses the global trade system. It begins by looking at the debate over free trade and protectionism. The chapter explores the evolution of the multilateral trade system, with particular emphasis on the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the World Trade Organization (WTO), highlighting the centrality of trade liberalization and non-discrimination in contemporary trade relations. It then considers the debates surrounding the relationship between trade and development, particularly around how multilateral trade rules reflect unequal power relations, and the social consequences of liberalized trade. The chapter also reflects on the recent backlash against neoliberal trade and the ostensible turn towards protectionism in some parts of the world. Finally, it highlights the gendered nature of trade and how it affects gender equality.