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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.

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

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Producing hyperflexibility

The restructuring of work in Britain

Louise Amoore

3 Producing hyperflexibility: the restructuring of work in Britain Change is opening up new horizons; but there is fear of what may lie within them. Technology and global financial markets are transforming our economies, our workplaces, our industrial structure. Economic change is uprooting communities and families from established patterns of life. The way we live, as well as the way we work, our culture, our shared morality, everything, is under pressure from the intensity and pace of change … It can be exhilarating. But it is certainly unsettling

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Louise Amoore

amorphous, ‘vague in referent’ and ‘ambiguous in usage’ (Jones, Amoore_Global_02_Ch1 14 6/19/02, 12:06 PM Globalisation, restructuring and flexibility 15 1995: 1). Indeed, some have concluded that the term should be abandoned to prevent its reification in political, academic and corporate debates. However, it is precisely the amorphous and empty nature of the concept that gives it the capacity to exercise power. It can be filled with multiple meanings and used to legitimate a range of restructuring programmes, from labour market flexibility and mobility, to

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The Asian financial crisis

Crisis, reform and recovery

Shalendra D. Sharma

The Asian financial crisis of 1997-98 shook the foundations of the global economy and what began as a localised currency crisis soon engulfed the entire Asian region. This book explores what went wrong and how did the Asian economies long considered 'miracles' respond, among other things. The combined effects of growing unemployment, rising inflation, and the absence of a meaningful social safety-net system, pushed large numbers of displaced workers and their families into poverty. Resolving Thailand's notorious non-performing loans problem will depend on the fortunes of the country's real economy, and on the success of Thai Asset Management Corporation (TAMC). Under International Monetary Fund's (IMF) oversight, the Indonesian government has also taken steps to deal with the massive debt problem. After Indonesian Debt Restructuring Agency's (INDRA) failure, the Indonesian government passed the Company Bankruptcy and Debt Restructuring and/or Rehabilitation Act to facilitate reorganization of illiquid, but financially viable companies. Economic reforms in Korea were started by Kim Dae-Jung. the partial convertibility of the Renminbi (RMB), not being heavy burdened with short-term debt liabilities, and rapid foreign trade explains China's remarkable immunity to the "Asian flu". The proposed sovereign debt restructuring mechanism (SDRM) (modeled on corporate bankruptcy law) would allow countries to seek legal protection from creditors that stand in the way of restructuring, and in exchange debtors would have to negotiate with their creditors in good faith.

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Conclusion

An international political economy of work

Louise Amoore

global social change have achieved ‘common sense’ status, and how they have been discursively employed to enable particular interventions to be made. This has primarily been an exercise in the politicisation of global restructuring, and the understanding of social change on which it is predicated. A first step in such an exercise involves the opening up of space for the discussion of alternative forms of political representation and, I have argued, this step can be taken via an exploration of the webs of power, tensions and contradictions that grip contemporary

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The ‘contested’ firm

The restructuring of work and production in the international political economy

Louise Amoore

actions and activities of MNCs. Academic commentaries in IPE, economics, sociology and business studies have commonly singled out the MNC as the central site of production and work for the global economy and, therefore, as a leading agent of globalisation. As the primary vehicles for global forces, firms are represented as acting to intensify competition, reacting to technological imperatives and transmitting knowledge and practices of restructuring across national boundaries. Media commentaries variously depict the multinationals as ‘a powerful force for good’ (The

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Globalisation at work

Unheard voices and invisible agency

Louise Amoore

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

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Producing flexi-corporatism

The restructuring of work in Germany

Louise Amoore

state-societies (Giddens, 1998). Gerhard Schröder’s apparent embracing of the individualism and ‘workfare’ (Jessop, 1994) strategy of Blair’s ‘Third Way’ in his ‘Neue Mitte’ concept may be read as indicative of an acceptance of the necessary restructuring imperatives of a global economy. Yet, when we explore the debate taking place within and outside German state-society it becomes clear that the representation of Germany as a rigid and inflexible political economy in need of radical restructuring is by no means uncontested. An effective counter to neo-liberal claims

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Louise Amoore

hegemony is built on coercion and consent, life goes on ‘as it should’ (Murphy, 1994: 20). But when the bloc is in crisis and one of its facades begins to crumble there is space for the structures to be ‘rebuilt or reclaimed’ (1994: 29). Murphy’s interpretation of Gramsci serves to problematise representations of social institutions as given or static entities. The ‘project’ of global restructuring thus becomes part of a wider fabric of social power relations that may be cut or hewn in new forms, but not without tension or contest: The active politician is a creator, an