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Open Access (free)
An international political economy of work
Author: Louise Amoore

Bringing fresh insights to the contemporary globalization debate, this text reveals the social and political contests that give ‘global’ its meaning, by examining the contested nature of globalization as it is expressed in the restructuring of work. The book rejects conventional explanations of globalization as a process that automatically leads to transformations in working lives, or as a project that is strategically designed to bring about lean and flexible forms of production, and advances an understanding of the social practices that constitute global change. Through case studies that span from the labour flexibility debates in Britain and Germany to the strategies and tactics of corporations and workers, it examines how globalization is interpreted and experienced in everyday life and argues that contestation has become a central feature of the practices that enable or confound global restructuring.

Open Access (free)
Louise Amoore

. It is critical of the ‘globalist’ representations of transformation as an imperativedriven and inexorable process. For people in their everyday lives, there is perhaps no sphere of social life so consistently bombarded with globalist accounts as that of production and work. For states, such a reading reinforces the imperative of a policy agenda that creates a competitive and capitalfriendly environment for MNCs. Firms are cast as the primary agents of global change as they restructure towards the ultimately ‘lean’ and ‘flexible’ organisation. The combined

in Globalisation contested
Open Access (free)
The restructuring of work and production in the international political economy
Louise Amoore

home-based multinational firms, the chapter suggests that the activities of globally-operating firms are less the outcome of unitary and unified actions than they are the result of a series of contests. If we understand the firm in this way, as a primary site of the experience of global change, then we are led to advance understandings of the contested nature of the restructuring of productive and working practices. We thus direct less attention to the firm as a vehicle of globalisation and become more attuned to the social experiences of global change that are

in Globalisation contested
Open Access (free)
Unheard voices and invisible agency
Louise Amoore

and invisible.1 Not only does this invisibility produce a serious deficit in our understandings of the dynamics of global change, but it also causes us to avert our eyes from the very sites where work and political contestation is taking place in the global political economy. As MNCs increasingly outsource their production and services, they become fractured into loosely connected sites, many of them employing unprotected and precarious workers. The programmes of restructuring in the advanced industrialised countries (AICs), whether ‘hyperflexible’ or ‘flexi

in Globalisation contested
Open Access (free)
An international political economy of work
Louise Amoore

of ‘what globalisation is’ tend to make appeals to a process that is driven by technological and economic externalities. It is a short step from this inevitabilist image to the construction of ‘imperatives’, towards which all state-societies, firms and people must restructure. In such a reading, historical difference, political conflict and social contestation are extracted from a pure drive for global transformation. There is a hungry market for such representations of a process of global change, precisely because if one can simplify, codify and explain the

in Globalisation contested
Louise Amoore

. However, it is not the events themselves that have informed the predominant explanations of global change. Rather, it is the technological and market forces held to lie behind them that are most commonly perceived as ‘creating globalisation’. Susan Strange argues that ‘technology has got ahead of regulation’ (1997a: 54) with the effect that technological change has become the ‘prime cause of the shift in the state-market balance of power’ (1996: 7). Others assert that ‘at the heart of the flexibilization of both production processes and firms themselves has been the

in Globalisation contested
Louise Amoore

-market dialectic led her to pose the question ‘who or what is responsible for change?’, and to answer ‘technology, markets and politics’ (1996: 185). There is a clear attempt to address the issue of how and why change takes place in the GPE, and to extend the agency of change beyond unitary nation-states. Nor does Strange shy away from the normative implications of global change. For her the risk and uncertainty of global transformation is unequally produced, distributed and mitigated (1983; 1998b). Amoore_Global_03_Ch2 46 6/19/02, 12:13 PM IPE and global social change 47

in Globalisation contested
The restructuring of work in Britain
Louise Amoore

, Davos) I n his speech to the Davos meeting the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, conjures a particular image of global change. On the one hand, he constitutes the problem of globalisation and restructuring as an imperative that is disciplined by ‘fear’, ‘uprooting’, ‘pressure’, ‘unsettling’ and ‘falling behind’. On the other, he offers a best practice solution to the defined ‘problem’. The message is that if the ‘right’ policy response is made to globalisation – one that is ‘exhilarating’, ‘managed’, ‘open’ and ‘flexible’ – then there is no need to be afraid. The

in Globalisation contested