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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.