Work looking at the intersections of labour and global production networks has expanded significantly over the past decade. That being said, there is still arguably a tendency to look at labour conditions and agency in particular contexts without connecting those directly to the translocal inter-firm relations, and governance thereof, that constitute global production networks.
This lecture explores whether the concept of the labour regime holds promise for theorising the intersecting network and territorial forces that shape labour conditions, experiences and agency potential in global production networks.
The notion of the labour regime has a long heritage that can be traced to debates in the 1970s and 1980s in development studies, feminist political economy, industrial relations, and political sociology. Recent years, however, have seen a mini-resurgence of interest in the theorisation of labour regimes in an era of global production networks across critical development studies, economic geography and employment relations. Labour regimes are seen as historically formed, multi-scalar phenomena resulting from the articulation of struggles over local social relations which intersect, directly or indirectly, with the commercial demands of lead-firms in global production networks, and with the gendered and racialized politics of social reproduction.
In this lecture I deploy a labour regimes framework to examine and compare the labour regimes of the Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan apparel industries, which exhibit seemingly very different labour outcomes in the context of enrolment in broadly similar global production networks. The analysis seeks to explain how and why labour regimes are shaped through the variable intersections of governance and agency, which in turn are deeply embedded in, and constitutive of, both global production dynamics and territorially specific characteristics.
Speaker: Neil M. Coe, Department of Geography, National University of Singapore
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