Please note that module information is indicative and may change year to year.
With the crisis of the neoliberal consensus, the international political economy of production has become a heated political issue. This module brings back production and labour relations as an area of enquiry connected to the study of world order. We first discuss how to study a “global commodity.” In order to do so, we investigate how competing political economy currents have addressed the relationship between labour, production and the world market against the backdrop of the development of the global economy. We then cover a selection of contemporary issues: automation and work organization, global production restructuring and global production networks/value chains, the rise of new centres of accumulation in Asia, labour relations in the global countryside, migration and racialization, the relationship between production and social reproduction, and the impact of the global economic and financial crisis in Europe. In this light, we address contemporary debates about the future of labour and the labour movement. The module combines lectures and student-centred activities.
When students have completed this module, they should be able to:
Evaluate the relationship of labour and production within broader socioeconomic and political transformations;
Develop a long-term understanding of global production networks/global value chains;
Select and use sources on industrial and labour relations;
Identify influences and constraints on competitiveness and labour market policies;
Engage in the comparative study of labour market policies;
Develop a global perspective on workers’ movements and trade union organisation.
One 2-hour seminar, weekly
Indicative teaching schedule
PART 1 – Global commodities: history and theories
Week 1: Introduction & Mercantilism: trade, slavery and the ‘utility of poverty’
Week 2: Classical political economy: industry, free trade and empire
Week 3: Marx: labour, capital and accumulation on a world scale
Week 4: Neoclassical economics: work, scarcity and comparative advantage
PART 2 – Contemporary issues
Week 5: Automation and work: Taylor, Ford, and Toyota
Week 6: The global restructuring of production
Week 7: Migration, race and gender
Week 8: Workers and China’s global factory
Week 9: Working into poverty in Europe
Week 10: The future of labour
Note that this teaching schedule is indicative and subject to change.
Module assessment - more information
One 4,000 word assessed essay (100%)