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Cover Global Political Economy

7. The Globalization of Production  

Eric Thun

This chapter addresses the globalization of production. Although companies have been investing abroad for centuries, the most recent era of globalization has created an unprecedented range of possibilities for global firms to reorganize and relocate their activities. The chapter analyses how advances in transportation and technology allow a firm to divide up a global value chain — the sequence of activities that lead to the production of a particular good or service — and how these decisions create new opportunities and challenges for both companies and the societies within which they operate. It first reviews the rise of global production and the forces that have led to dramatic increases in foreign direct investment (FDI) and outsourcing. The central questions for any firm involved in global production involves how to govern the value chain and where to locate different activities. The chapter then provides a framework for understanding these issues and the implications of the various choices. It also applies these concepts to the case of East Asia, particularly China.

Chapter

Cover Global Political Economy

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.

Chapter

Cover Global Political Economy

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.

Chapter

Cover Global Political Economy

10. The Logics of Economic Globalization  

Anthony McGrew

This chapter provides a systematic account of the causes of economic globalization. Within the global political economy (GPE) literature, economic globalization tends to be more precisely specified as ‘the emergence and operation of a single, worldwide economy’. This assists its measurement by reference to the intensity, extensity, and velocity of worldwide economic flows and interconnectedness, from trade, through production and finance, migration to information and data. Understood as a historical process, the concept of economic globalization also infers an evolving transformation or evolution in the organization and operation of the world economy. The chapter then reviews the principal theories of economic globalization, drawing upon the GPE literature. It develops a multi-theoretic account of economic globalization which captures its structural, conjunctural, and contingent causal factors. The chapter also demonstrates how this multi-theoretic framework is relevant to understanding the current crisis of economic globalization. It considers whether, in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis, this crisis is the precursor to a period of accelerating deglobalization.

Chapter

Cover Poverty and Development

10. Environmental Degradation and Sustainability  

Kathryn Hochstetler

This chapter studies the rise of global environmental concern, identifying major events and debates as they unfolded. Much human economic activity can be described as primary commodity production or manufacturing. Each of these has a potentially negative impact on the environment. The chapter then looks at the 'environmentalism of the poor', which tends to be based on material survival needs rather than post-material values. It also summarizes two discourses on the causes of sustainability and unsustainability. The Global Environmental Management discourse looks for top-down interventions to come from states or market actors, viewing local populations as the cause of much environmental damage. The People-Centred discourse reverses the analysis, arguing that local populations are often able to achieve long-term sustainability in their communities until outside actors like states and market actors disrupt those relations.

Chapter

Cover The Globalization of World Politics

1. Globalization and global politics  

Anthony McGrew

This chapter examines the characteristics of contemporary globalization and how they are reshaping world politics. It explains why globalization challenges some of our traditional ways of thinking and theorizing about world politics. It asks whether there are limits to globalization or whether it is inevitable. It also considers the extent to which globalization is responsible for the emerging shift in the structure of world power, namely the ‘decline of the West’ and the ‘rise of the rest’. Two case studies are presented: one is about the iPhone and the iPad, and illustrates the implications of global production networks for national economic sovereignty; the other is about the global recycling system. There is also an Opposing Opinions box that tackles the question of whether globalization is eroding the power of the state.

Chapter

Cover Global Environmental Politics

1. Interconnections between science and politics  

This chapter discusses the complex and multifaceted relationship between science and politics. Although science and politics each follow a distinct logic and pursue distinct objectives, they are inextricably connected to one another. On the one hand, science influences political debates, by drawing attention to certain problems and providing necessary justifications for political action. On the other hand, political dynamics, including political values and power relations, structure the conduct of science. The chapter highlights the different aspects of the co-production of science and politics, in the framework of international environmental debates. An increasing number of studies on global environmental governance suggest that science and politics are co-produced. As they shape each other, it is impossible to understand one without considering the other. Political interactions are partly based on available knowledge, and scientific production is a social practice that is conditioned by its political context.