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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 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 Poverty and Development

12. Diversity in Pre-Capitalist Societies  

Janet Bujra

This chapter reflects on a range of examples of pre-capitalist societies, chosen to illustrate the major arenas of colonial disruption, in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and to show how they worked. The empires which Europe created in Africa, Asia, and Latin America were merely the last (to date) in a long line of imperial ventures. There were few areas in the world which had not previously been subject to overlordship by external forces, sometimes to the suzerainty of successive powers. However, these old empires often functioned quite differently from the newer empires created by Europe. The growth of capitalism in Europe drove a need for closer control over the type and extent of production in areas under imperial domination. Whereas in previous empires merchants had merely served the demands of wealthy minorities for luxury goods (and in the process accumulated hoards of personal wealth), now these stocks of wealth began to go directly into the transformation of productive processes in Europe (the Industrial Revolution) rather than into consumption. Thus the emphasis was increasingly on raw materials or intermediate inputs to European industry.

Chapter

Cover Contemporary Political Philosophy

5. Marxism  

This chapter examines Marxism as a normative political theory. It begins with a discussion of two strands of contemporary analytic Marxism’s critique of, and alternative to, liberal theories of justice. One strand rejects the very idea of justice. According to Marxists, justice seeks to mediate conflicts between individuals, whereas communism overcomes those conflicts, and hence overcomes the need for justice. The second strand shares liberalism’s emphasis on justice, but rejects the liberal belief that justice is compatible with private ownership of the means of production. Within this second strand, there is a division between those who criticize private property on the grounds of exploitation, and those who criticize it on the grounds of alienation. The chapter also explores non-Marxist conceptions of social democracy and social justice before concluding with an overview of the politics of Marxism.

Chapter

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 Rethinking Political Thinkers

13. Karl Marx  

Simon Choat

This chapter focuses on the works of Karl Marx from 1845 onwards, because it is in those works that the theories and concepts for which he is best known were developed. It begins by explaining Marx’s materialist conception of history, mainly through the manuscripts published posthumously as The German Ideology (originally co-authored 1845–1846 with Friedrich Engels) and the 1859 ‘Preface’. The chapter explores some of Marx’s main concepts, including mode of production, class struggle, and ideology. The chapter then turns to Marx’s critical analysis of the capitalist mode of production, especially as found in the Communist Manifesto (1848, with Engels) and Capital Volume One (1867). Finally, it examines Marx’s views on the state and contrasts them with those of his anarchist contemporaries. While acknowledging Marx’s weaknesses, especially with respect to the analysis of race and gender, the chapter defends his continuing relevance.

Chapter

Cover Rethinking Political Thinkers

18. C.L.R. James  

Robbie Shilliam

This chapter investigates a key tension in the political thought of C.L.R. James, the celebrated Trinidadian Marxist. James believed that the human condition was defined by a search for meaningful freedom through the pursuit of collective self-determination. Yet he was conflicted as to whether peoples of African descent had to depend for this meaning on the European civilization that had enslaved and colonized them. The chapter details James’s unique contribution to Marxist thought: a ‘dialectic of freedom’ that triangulates the struggle between the bourgeoisie, the masses, and the radical intelligentsia. It then considers the impact of colonial education on James’s own development and the ways in which it made Black intellectual production, for him, intrinsically political and contentious. The chapter also explores the dualism with which James treated Blackness as a resource with which to struggle for meaningful freedom. It considers James’s legacy as edifying, precisely because of the intellectual forthrightness by which he lived his split ethical, theoretical, and political orientation towards Europe and Africa.

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 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.

Chapter

Cover Poverty and Development

8. Unemployment and Making a Living  

David Wield

This chapter describes the issue of unemployment and ways of making a living. Rather than simply being characterized by unemployment, in less developed areas work is often characterized by its complexity and diversity. The level of complexity is arguably increasing as all around the world there has been an increase in the diversity of ways of making a living, with more part-time wage work, more self-employed, and informal activities, and more flexible work systems. Often, rather than people being unemployed, a major issue is that many work extremely hard but at levels of low productivity, receiving low financial recompense, and thus remaining in relative poverty. They require opportunities for better quality and better remunerated work. Understanding of policy issues is improved by applying the concepts of commodity and subsistence production, reproduction, and waged and unwaged work, as well as an appreciation of how ways of making a living combine these types of work.

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.