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Globalisation contested

An international political economy of work

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.

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The ‘contested’ firm

The restructuring of work and production in the international political economy

Louise Amoore

5 The ‘contested’ firm: the restructuring of work and production in the international political economy no involuntary changes have ever spontaneously restructured or reorganised a mode of production; … changes in productive relationships are experienced in social and cultural life, refracted in men’s ideas and their values, and argued through in their actions, their choices and their beliefs. (Thompson, 1976/1994: 222) T he desire to comprehend, order and manage the dual dynamics of globalisation and restructuring has led to much attention being paid to the

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Globalisation at work

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

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Producing flexi-corporatism

The restructuring of work in Germany

Louise Amoore

4 Producing flexi-corporatism: the restructuring of work in Germany We support a market economy, not a market society … Modern social democrats want to transform the safety net of entitlements into a springboard to personal responsibility… Part-time work and low-paid work are better than no work… (Tony Blair and Gerhard Schröder, 1999: 1–7) T he positioning of German state-society within the globalisation and restructuring debates is, in itself, highly contested between competing voices and claims. In a neo-liberal reading, evident across international

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Louise Amoore

continues to represent power as something that is wielded by elite global actors, thus rendering the ‘ordinary’ realms of work and labour secondary concerns to finance and production. I identify the central elements of an IPE of social practice which, I propose, makes everyday practices such as work visible and amenable to inquiry. Orthodox perspectives in IPE IPE as a field of inquiry, a set of questions and a range of assumptions, is a highly contested discipline (Tooze, 1984). Indeed, it is perhaps misleading to consider IPE to be a discipline at all, given that it is

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Louise Amoore

6 Introduction T he mood is shifting in the contemporary globalisation debate. Only a few years ago, talk of the contested and politicised nature of globalisation would have met with scepticism from those who emphasise the sheer economic power of globalising forces. The orthodox popular and academic representations of globalisation have for several decades sustained the image of a powerful economic and technological bulldozer that effortlessly shovels up states and societies. The very discourse of the ‘competition state’ (Cerny, 1990) effectively sanitised

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Conclusion

An international political economy of work

Louise Amoore

and security, for others it means redundancy as a share price falls, contract work for a MNC, and increased risk and insecurity. Despite the rise of globalisation as a ‘dominant discourse … which produces truth about individuals and their environment’ (Penttinen, 2000: 203), multiple meanings and diverse concrete experiences persist that make this a debated and contested set of truths. The primary task of this book has been to offer a route into the revealing of these multiple meanings, experiences and contests. A rethinking of our dominant mode of knowledge of

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Producing hyperflexibility

The restructuring of work in Britain

Louise Amoore

‘flexible’ labour? This conundrum has been discussed at the heart of the globalisation debate, with those who see globalisation as a process proclaiming the convergence of national Amoore_Global_04_Ch3 67 6/19/02, 12:17 PM Globalisation contested 68 capitalisms around a neo-liberal policy agenda (Strange, 1997b), and those who see a nationally defined ‘project’ declaring globalisation to be a ‘myth’ (Weiss, 1998). Neither perspective, however, actually problematises the dichotomous representation of a globalisation ‘outside’ and a national capitalism ‘inside’. As is

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Louise Amoore

globalisation as ‘processes’ represent highly simplified understandings of social change. They embody ‘problem-solving’ approaches to knowledge (Cox, 1981: 128), reflecting a preference for generalisable and codifiable modes of thought, and informing the terms of a policy discourse. In the attempt to highlight the contested nature of globalisation in production and work, a first step is to question its role in underpinning and legitimating the all-pervasive discourse of flexibility. In this chapter the common discursive dynamics of the industrialisation and globalisation

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Douglas Blum

2504Chap2 7/4/03 12:38 pm Page 29 2 Contested national identities and weak state structures in Eurasia Douglas Blum Since their very inception, many of the Soviet successor states have been beset by ethnic violence, crime, trafficking – in arms, drugs and people – terrorism, poverty, pollution and migration.1 Most have also faced deeper problems of legitimacy and ideological drift. To a significant extent these pathologies can be traced back to the delegitimisation of the entire Soviet world view, and the lack of any viable replacement. The existence of an