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An international political economy of work

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)
Unheard voices and invisible agency

outside the process, receiving the imperatives of global restructuring. For workers this implies that transformations in their everyday lives will follow essentially, necessarily and automatically from new production technologies, the competitive impulses of global markets and the demands of shareholder capitalism. Where agencycentred questions have been raised in the globalisation debate, these have tended to focus upon the decisions and actions of powerful transnational, state or corporate elites. Here the actions, experiences and articulations of workers are simply

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

non-state actor in an increasingly interdependent world.1 In this way, from the 1970s, the firm has come to represent the primary vehicle of globalisation as it creates restructuring imperatives for states and societies alike (Stopford and Strange, 1991; Porter, 1990; Ohmae, 1990; Sklair, 2001). For many academics, policy-makers, business people, journalists and indeed workers, there is a sense in which understanding globalisation has become synonymous with understanding the actions of MNCs as they, in turn, react to productive and technological transformations. For

in Globalisation contested
The restructuring of work in Britain

speech goes on to state that Britain has made the ‘right’ and ‘flexible’ policy response at a pace that matches the speed of social change. What we can see here is one face of the making of a particular kind of global restructuring, one that for many commentators is captured by a ‘British model’ of neo-liberal or hyperliberal capitalism. Yet, how can we make sense of a ‘national capitalism’ given, for example, the prevalence of German banks in the City of London, the Japanese multinationals on northern business parks and the migrant workers providing much of the

in Globalisation contested

agenda. In line with globalisation, flexibility comes simultaneously to mean all things and yet nothing precise at all. The discourse on flexibility pervades the policy agenda of the competition state (Cerny, 1990; Porter, 1990), the restructuring strategies of firms (Ruigrok and van Tulder, 1995) and the everyday experiences of workers (Pollert, 1991; Beck, 2000b). The conception of globalisation as a process reinforces the assumption that the state is compelled to ‘retreat’ or adopt new policy instruments (Strange, 1996), the flexible firm in a ‘global web’ is the

in Globalisation contested
Open Access (free)

restructuring activity of states and firms is presented as a fait accompli that demands prescribed responses from individuals and social Amoore_Global__01_Intro 1 6/19/02, 12:02 PM Globalisation contested 2 groups. Competition states, lean production systems and flexible workers become the dominant mantra in the grip of an unstoppable globalising process. Though broadly supportive of the critical turn that has been taken to counter the globalist dominance, this book also marks a departure from the central thrust of these contributions. Those who have sought to counter

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

bounded ‘global’, ‘national’ and ‘local’ levels of analysis. In my analysis of the firm, for example, I focused on the relationships between social groups, demonstrating that these cut across the ascribed boundaries of MNCs. The transnational activities of bankers, corporate managers and management consultants are taken out of the realm of an ethereal global market, to consider their relationships to the practices of non-elite groups such as unprotected labour, contract workers and homeworkers. These relationships, I have argued, Amoore_Global_08_Concl 161 6/19/02, 1

in Globalisation contested
The restructuring of work in Germany

restructuring is that this debate is inclusive only in the sense that it includes core workers in a highly protected labour market. For the increasing numbers of people excluded from the core labour market in Germany, this is a debate that is closed to them and is unlikely to reflect their experiences. Historical representations of the social market Both the proponents and the critics of the so-called German ‘model’ of capitalism tend to make appeals to the historical development of the institutions and practices of the German ‘social market’ political economy. For the

in Globalisation contested

contingency only arising out of different combinations of actors and structures that may affect the outcomes. The people, workers, firms and social groups inside the markets, states and technologies are simply invisible in this representation. Of the four structures that are central to Strange’s conception of global social change, it is the knowledge structure that has been most widely critiqued (Tooze, 2000a, 2000b; Palan, 1999; May, 1996; Cox, 1992a). Strange’s conception of knowledge, as a resource of information that can be wielded or exercised, allows her to position

in Globalisation contested
Art and the temporalities of geomedia

used by the clients of sex workers and used Street View to source images of them, mainly urban edgeland sites in southern Europe (Henner, 2011; 2012). Many of these images show the moment when the sex workers – all women – look up to address the photographic apparatus, their faces pixelated by Google’s pattern recognition algorithm. However, the most poignant of the No Man’s Land images capture these scenes at those times when they are empty of human subjects: Henner bookends the first volume with images that show only chairs by the roadside. In a recent analysis of

in Time for mapping