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School of Business and Management

Centre on Labour and Global Production (CLGP)


The Centre on Labour and Global Production (CLGP) draws upon a critical mass of researchers across different disciplinary areas at Queen Mary University of London who are engaged in research on the changing position of workers, labour and regulation in the world economy. We understand the world economy as a set of value creating and appropriating activities rooted in particular spaces and material dynamics of production connected through global networks of economic activity. The world economy is organised around value chains and production networks that traverse national boundaries as well as the gendered hierarchies of so-called domestic vs. productive labour, and which articulate people and places across countries and regions in a diversity of production-consumption relations. These inter-dependent relations are not just economic ones, but are always-already socially, historically, spatially and ecologically embedded, and invariably shaped by relations of subordination and domination. Regulation plays a central role here, within states, among them and in layered forms of private ordering. As such, the question of labour in the global economy today is concerned with the uneven working conditions, labour standards, precarious work, affective labour, unpaid work, child labour, forms of representation and worker organisation that arise from these inter-dependent global economic relations. Any attempt to understand these issues requires an interdisciplinary social scientific approach.

The Centre on Labour and Global Production brings together such an interdisciplinary group drawing upon a diversity of backgrounds including Development Studies, Economic Geography, Critical Management Studies and International Political Economy. We are committed to the careful study of actually-existing social relations. Our work is theoretically informed but uses theory as a guide to interpret contingent historical-geographical worlds around us, not a predetermined blueprint.


Dr Elena Baglioni (School of Business and Management, QMUL) is the Director of the centre. Elena holds a PhD in Development Studies from the University of Bologna. Her long-standing research interests include global value chains and agrarian political economy. Her most recent interests span the political economy of natural resource industries, labour regime analysis and social reproduction. Her research has been published in the Journal of Economic Geography, Environment and Planning A, Review of International Political Economy, Journal of Agrarian Change and Work, Employment and Society. Dr Elena Baglioni

Suyash Barve (PhD student, School of Business and Management, QMUL) research explores the public sphere, political culture, and gendered labour of the working classes in western India. He has worked as a creative professional in the film and media industry in India, and holds a diploma in direction and screenwriting from the Film and Television Institute of India.

Suyash Barve
Dr Michael Shane Boyle's (School of English and Drama, QMUL) researches primarily on the political economy of performance, with particular interest in the labour processes of theatres and other arts organisations. He is finishing a monograph called The Arts of Logistics, which examines how artists engage with supply chain technologies like shipping containers, oil pipelines, GPS, and drones. He has also written extensively on how to apply Marxist theory to study theatre. Dr Michael Shane Boyle (SED)

Professor Liam Campling (School of Business and Management, QMUL) is a political economist working in two connected research areas: (1) global production, natural resource industries and labour regimes; and (2) international trade policy, its negotiation and relationship to global production, including environmental and labour standards. He had recently co-authored two books Capitalism and the Sea (Verso, 2021) and Free Trade Agreements and Global Labour Governance (Routledge, 2021)

Liam Campling
Professor Kavita Datta (School of Geography, QMUL) is a development geographer whose research focuses on transnational migration from the global South to the North. This interest has been developed in a series of independent or collaborative projects investigating the changing nature, politics and sensibility of work and transnational migration to global cities like London. Professor Kavita Datta
Claudine Grisard (School of Business and Management, QMUL) has a background in politics, development studies and accounting. Her research broadly considers the links between accounting and politics to understand the constitutive role that accounting plays in sustaining current politico-economical systems and networks, and in the struggles engaged by groups resisting these systems. Her research covers a variety of fields such as post-colonial and labour struggles contexts.   Claudine Grisard
Professor Gerard Hanlon (School of Business and Management, QMUL) longstanding research interests concern the interaction between divisions of labour and social re-composition, with particular reference to labour processes, standardisation and the loss of autonomy within work.  His most recent examines the foundational role of the military in the origins of capitalist organisation and labour control.  He has written three monographs and published in leading journals in accounting, law, management, medicine, sociology and social policy. 

Dr Carlo Inverardi-Ferri (School of Geography, QMUL) is a human geographer whose work is situated at the intersection of economic geography and political ecology. His research focuses on the health and environmental aspects of globalised systems of production and has appeared in Transactions of the Institute of British GeographersMobilitiesArea Development and Policy and the International Encyclopaedia of Human Geography among other publications. 

Dr Carlo Inverardi-Ferri
Jonathan Jones (PhD student, School of Business and Management and School of Geography, QMUL) is researching the role of labour in the maritime logistics sector, with a focus on the opportunities and challenges that developments in distribution methods, technology and employment practices bring about for workers' collective organisation

Hyunjung Kim (PhD student, School of Business and Management, QMUL) is researching labour control and labour regulation in the contexts of Korean and Taiwan distant water fisheries. In particular, her research focuses on the political-economic dynamics of multi-scalar engagements by stakeholders in transnational value chain governance.

Hyunjung Kim
Dr Ed Legon (School of Business and Management, QMUL) is Lecturer in Heritage Management. He is currently researching a monograph on the political culture and ideas of English makers of cloth in the seventeenth century. Ed's research centres experiences of work and relations of production, transformations in political participation, economy, and regulation, and transnational experiences in an era of emerging English capitalism, imperialism, and domestic conflict and crisis.

Dara Leyden (PhD student at the School of Business and Management, QMUL) is researching the role of labour struggles in Thailand’s electronics sector, which largely employs young, female migrant workers. He is analysing how new forms of coalitions and struggles can influence social upgrading in global value chains.

Dara Leyden
Dr Matteo Mandarini's (School of Business and Management, QMUL) research concerns the relation of conflict to the transformations of capitalism. Drawing on Italian Operaismo and the broader Marxist tradition, his work is focused on the ways conflict is both theorised and organised. His present research takes the forms of workers’ struggles in Italy from the ‘economic miracle’ of the late 1950s to the ‘strategy of tension’ and the legitimation crises of the 1907s, to try to think conflict as a practice that refuses resolution.
Fletcher O’Leary (PhD student, School of Business and Management, QMUL) has an interest in the application of historical methodologies to contemporary social and political controversies. His research is focused on the trajectory of security companies through the 20th and 21st centuries and what this reveals about the changing nature of 'order'. Fletcher O'Leary

Zafer Ornek (PhD student, School of Business and Management, QMUL) is researching the relationship between the role of labour in the vehicle manufacturing sector and just transition to a low carbon economy, with a focus on the shift to electric vehicle production in Germany.

Zafer Ornek
Kallum Pembro (PhD Student, School of Business and Management, QMUL) is researching platform labour and the possibilities for workers' collective organisation under conditions of algorithmic management, precarious employment and workplace decentralisation Kallum Pembro
Dr Martha Prevezer's (School of Business and Management, QMUL) research centres on governance, geographical industrial clustering, institutional economic history and institutional development in the global South as well as global North. She is the author of a number of books, the latest of which is Varieties of Capitalism in History, Transition and Emergence: New Perspectives on Institutional Development (Routledge 2017). 
Dr Amit S. Rai (School of Business and Management, QMUL) has written Jugaad Time: Ecologies of Everyday Hacking in India (Duke University Press, 2019). He has also recently coedited with Professors Anjali Monteiro and K. P. Jayasankar, Diginaka: Digital ecologies in Postcapitalist India (Orient-Blackswan, 2020). He and his collaborators at Something to Aim For have been awarded AHRC emergency covid funding to address structural racism and intersectional class antagonisms in UK's performance and theatre sector. 
Dr Gale Raj-Reichert (School of Geography, QMUL) researches on labour governance of global production networks in developing countries. Her current research focuses on how changing relationships and power dynamics between firms in the electronics industry, governments, non-governmental organizations and trade unions affect negotiations, strategies and activities around labour governance in Malaysia and China. Gale’s fieldwork is based in the US, EU, Malaysia, Singapore, China and Hong Kong. Gale’s publications include papers in Regulation and GovernanceGeoforum and Competition and Change.  

Dr Hannah Schling (School of Gepgraphy, QMUL) holds a PhD in Human Geography from King’s College London. Hannah's research focuses on questions of social reproduction, dormitory labour regimes, labour migration and bordering in Central and Eastern Europe.

Dr Hannah Schling
Professor Adrian Smith (School of Geography, QMUL) works on global production and the political economy of uneven development. Much of his research has focused on the European Union's integration of neighbouring regions into regionalised production networks, and he is currently working on the role of labour standards in EU free trade agreements. He has recently published Articulations of Capital: Global Production Networks and Regional Transformations (Wiley, 2016, with John Pickles, Robert Begg, Milan Bucek, Poli Roukova and Rudolf Pastor) and is Editor-in-Chief of European Urban and Regional Studies. Professor Adrian Smith
Dr Olivia Vicol (School of Geography, QMUL) works on a Leverhulme project which investigates the Disciplining of the Remittance Marketplace. With a thesis focused on Romanian migrants’ encounters with London’s precarious work sectors, Olivia’s project was dedicated to unpacking the power and pitfalls of informal economies. In 2016, Olivia helped found the Work Rights Centre: an employment rights charity where she is happy to act as Chair of Trustees. Since then, her work has continued to straddle a theoretical interest in states, markets, and the tension between formal and informal exchanges which runs through the heart of industrialised societies, with an active interest in public engagement with stakeholders beyond the academy. O Vicol
Dr Philippa Williams (School of Geography, QMUL) researches around questions of citizenship and marginality within the context of organised and informal economies in India. Her monograph, Everyday peace: politics, citizenship and Muslim lives in India (2015), looks in part, at work and social relations in the silk sari industry in Varanasi north India. She has also published research about Muslim middle class professionals in India’s new Service Economy and along with William Monteith and Dora-Olivia Vicol Philippa is co-editor of Beyond the Wage: Ordinary Work in Diverse Economies (2021).   Phillipa Williams


Gavin Capps  (School of Law, Social and Behavioural Sciences, Kingston University London) works in the broad field of natural resource extraction and development, the new political economies of land, labour and finance within the platinum mining industry in post-apartheid South Africa. Approaching these issues from a value-theoretic perspective, his work has variously been published in the Review of African Political Economy, the Journal of Peasant Studies, and the Journal of Agrarian Change for which he was awarded the annual Bernstein and Byres Prize for best article in 2016. 


Dr Rowland Curtis (School of Business and Management, QMUL). His research is engaged with questions of power, knowledge and subjectivity at work, while exploring the implications of poststructuralist thought for empirical inquiry in culture and economy, including with particular regard to ethnographic and materialist practice. He is a member of the editorial collective of the open access journal ephemera: theory and politics in organization.


Natalia Delgado (Law School, University of Southampton) obtained her LLB and qualified as a barrister in Argentina and graduated with a Master's in International and European Law from the University of Geneva. She is currently finishing her PhD at Birkbeck Law School, University of London. Her doctoral research specifically deals with the manner in which World Trade Organization, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have conceptualized labour and labour law since the 1970s.


Dr Cédric Durand (Associate Professor, Paris 13 University) is an economist. Working within the tradition of Marxist and French regulationist political economy, he is member of the Centre d’économie Paris Nord. He studies globalization, financialization and contemporary mutations of capitalism. He participates to the editorial board of the Revue d’économie industrielle and the online journal ContreTemps.


Dr Katy Fox-Hodess’s (Management School, University of Sheffield) research focuses on labour, globalization and political economy. Her PhD in Sociology from University of California, Berkeley, examined contemporary international solidarity among dockworkers' unions in Europe and Latin America.


Evelina Gambino`s (PhD student, Geography Department, UCL) research focuses on the New Silk Road and the logistics revolution in Georgia which she analyses as a discursive and material formation. She holds a Ba and Ma in Anthropology and Cultural Politics from Goldsmiths College, starting from her ethnographic training, her research is concerned with developing critical and collaborative field methodologies.  Her interests include critical logistics and critical geopolitics and the politics of infrastructure.


Dr Elizabeth Havice’s (Department of Geography, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill) research draws together development studies, environmental politics, and political economy to explore the multi-scalar intersections among state, firms, non-state organizations and nature in the global economy. Current projects focus on exploring ‘value’ in global value chains, dilemmas over property and sovereignty in marine spaces and marine resource management, and building networks of scholars exploring resource geographies and contemporary and historical ocean frontiers.


Dr Amy Horton’s (Department of Geography, UCL) research focuses on the interactions between finance, labour and care. It investigates the role of finance in the economy and society, and how social and labour movements seek to rework economies. Her doctorate examined financial investment in care homes for older people, as well as efforts by labour and community groups to ensure that care is valued more highly. Other work has explored the implications of living wage campaigns.


Professor Sukhdev Johal's (School of Business and Management, QMUL) most recent research interests include critical research on UK finance, how to adapt social and economic statistics to understand employment and wealth changes in the UK, and how local authorities can adapt local CSR policies to promote economic democracy and local supply chains. He has a long-standing interest in financialisation and how it affects the behaviours and performance of large companies.


Dr Ashok Kumar (Department of Management, Birkbeck, University of London) researches on global value chains, workers’ bargaining power, development, and cities. Kumar is part of the editorial collective of City and Historical Materialism as well as on the editorial board of Environment and Planning D: Society and Space.


Patrícia Rocha Lemos (PhD student in Social Sciences, University of Campinas, Brazil) examines the working conditions and work management at Walmart in Brazil focusing on how multinational companies adapt or shape their strategies to the national environment in host countries, especially regarding the working conditions. She is also interested in issues like employment and labour movement in the retail sector and the role of Global South in Global Production Networks.

Ku'ulei Lewis's (PhD student, School of Business and Management, QMUL) research investigates the management of global value chains, with a specific interest in the effects of scale on biodiversity sustainability.


Angus McNelly is a lecturer in International Development and Latin American Politics at the School of Politics and International Relations, Queen Mary University of London. He completed his PhD on the experiences of the Left in Power in Bolivia earlier this year, and has written on Bolivian social theory, social movements and the MAS government, the political economy of Bolivia, and the labor movement.


Dr Giuliano Maielli (School of Business and Management, QMUL) holds a PhD in Economic History from the London School of Economics. His main body of research revolves around issues of technological and institutional path dependence and path creation, and their impact upon power relations across occupational blocs. His most recent research interest concerns the emergence of dispersed organisations and the redistribution of R&D rights across supply chains.


Aris Martinelli’s (PhD student in Socioeconomics, University of Geneva) current project focuses on the interrelation between global value chains, industrial relations and the labour process in the Swiss machinery industry. His research interests include international political economy, sociology of work and organizations, industrial relations and social policy.


Dr Alessandra Mezzadri (Department of Development Studies, SOAS, University of London) researches on global industrial circuits, labour informalisation and labour regimes; global labour standards and critical approaches to CSR and ethical consumerism; feminisms in development and social reproduction approaches; and India’s political economy. Her research is published in numerous international journals and media outlets. She is the author of The Sweatshop Regime: Labouring Bodies, Exploitation and Garments 'Made in India' (Cambridge University Press, 2017).


Dr Satoshi Miyamura (Department of Economics, SOAS University of London) currently works on patterns of industrial restructuring, labour market institutions and labour-management relations in a range of manufacturing sectors, including jute and cotton textile, engineering and pharmaceutical industries in various regions of India, including West Bengal, Maharashtra, Gujarat and the Delhi/ National Capital Region. More generally, his research interests are in the political economy of development in India and Japan; economics of labour and institutions; economic history and history of economic thought.


Professor Susan Newman’s (Economics, The Open University) research interests include the political economy of industrial development, the relationship between finance and production, and the social relations of production and exchange in agro-food commodity chains. She has conducted research on the restructuring of agrocommodity chains in relation to financialisation as well as the political economy of industrial development in post-apartheid South Africa.


Dr Paolo Novak’s (Department of Development Studies, SOAS) research unfolds at the intersection of critical borders, migration and development studies and is concerned with the study of a) borders, understood as the point of contact and articulation between multi-scalar and multi-directional social processes, as a prism to interrogate migration and development theorisations b) border management, understood as the set of interventions concerned with the opening/closing, location and enforcement of border functions, as a prism to interrogate neoliberal migration and development policies c) the tensions between abstract inclusion/exclusion criteria and their situated and fluid everyday life, as a prism to think about politics and political subjectivities.


Dr Jonathan Pattenden (University of East Anglia) researches on labour and the political economy and political sociology of class relations and agrarian change. He is the author of Labour, State and Society in Rural India: A Class-Relational Approach (2016), and co-editor of Class Dynamics of Development (2017). He has published in the Journal of Agrarian ChangeJournal of Peasant StudiesDevelopment and ChangeGlobal Labour JournalEconomic and Political Weekly, and Third World Quarterly.  He is on the editorial board of Journal of Agrarian Change.


Professor Nicola Piper (School of Law, QMUL) researches on the global governance of labour migration and the role of the International Labour Organisation in the promotion of decent work for migrant workers. Nicola is also co-investigator in the UK-RI funded Global Challenge Research Hub on South-South Migration and Inequality and co-lead of the Gender Work Package (2019-2023). She is co-chief editor of the Journal Global Social Policy and editor of two book series with Routledge (“Asian Migration” with A/Profs Chan and Lee; “Labour and Skills Mobility in Asia” with Prof Eric Fong, Chinese University of Hong Kong).


Clair Quentin (Research Associate, Policy Institute, King's College London) works on tax policy.  Their research interests include the interrelation of international corporate tax norms and inequality in the global production network.


Kyla Sankey’s (School of Business and Management, QMUL) research focuses on the political economy of land and agrarian movements in Latin America.


Dr Gregory Schwartz (Department of Management, University of Bristol) researches the transformation of work, employment and labour relations in the context of post-socialist Central & Eastern Europe and Russia, looking at the effects of (and conflicts arising from) the nature of integration of CEE into global production and political economy on class relations, on the social organisation of the workplace, and on the workers’ social identities.


Professor Benjamin Selwyn’s (School of Global Studies, University of Sussex) research interests include understanding how class relations evolve within and impact upon the formation and functioning of global value chains, theories of development, and the global food system. He is author of Workers, State and Development in Brazil (2012), The Global Development Crisis (2014), The Struggle for Development (2017) and co-editor of Class Dynamics of Development (2014).


Sara Stevano (Department of Economics, SOAS University of London) is a development and feminist political economist specialising in the study of the political economy of work, well-being (food and nutrition), households and development policy. Working at the intersections between political economy, development economics, feminist economics and anthropology, Sara takes an interdisciplinary approach to theories and methods. Her work focuses on Africa, with primary research experience in Mozambique and Ghana.


Dr Umut Ulukan (Department of Labour Economics and Industrial Relations, Ordu University, Turkey) researches on agrarian change and rural labour relations under the hegemony of neoliberalism and capitalist globalization in Turkey. His recent works are concerned with the dynamics and outcomes of the process of rural transformation in the eastern Black Sea region of Turkey, which is the largest hazelnut producing area in the world and the largest fishing area in Turkey. His current research project focuses on the new patterns of social differentiation among small scale fishers in Turkey.


Dr Min Yan (School of Business and Management, QMUL) is a Lecturer in Business Law researching on corporate law and governance. His interests also encompass labour protection and regulatory initiates for employee participation at the board level.  His recent research focuses on corporate social responsibility through regulation and global supply chain as well. 


Professor Tessa Wright (School of Business and Management, QMUL) has been researching on equality and diversity in the labour market and workplace for many years, initially for the labour movement. She is interested in the intersection of multiple identities, and author of Gender and sexuality in male-dominated occupations: women workers in construction and transport (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016). She has undertaken research on trade union action to address inequality at work, including the role of union Equality Reps. Her ongoing research focuses on public procurement as a tool for advancing equality, and is the co-author of Fighting Fire: One hundred years of the Fire Brigades Union, 2018, New Internationalist, with Sian Moore and Phil Taylor.


Joanne Zhang’s (School of Business and Management, QMUL) research and teaching interests are strategic entrepreneurship and innovation with a focus on digital and high technology sectors. Joanne was engaged in large-scale research projects including “New Modes of Innovation: Managerial and Strategic Business Practice and Open Innovation” (£5m, ESRC supported, Cambridge and Imperial), “Financial and Organizational innovation in UK Biotechnology sector” (£1.3m, EPSRC supported, City University and SPRU). Previously she held positions at Cambridge University and University of East Anglia. 

All presenters at CLGP events are encouraged to submit a working paper in advance. These papers will be made available online or circulated by email among Members and Affiliates.


WP 1 - 2020 [PDF 1,455KB]

Why workers’ determination is not enough: A case study of workers’ struggles in Swiss machinery GVCs

Aris Martinelli

PhD Student at the Geneva School of Social Science and Visiting PhD Student at the Centre on Labour and Global Production, Queen Mary University of London:


Global value chains (GVCs) affect the capacity of workers to defend and to improve their working conditions. The Swiss economy is deeply integrated into GVCs, especially export sectors such as the machinery industry. The purpose of this paper is to understand how GVCs shape working conditions in this sector and what possibilities exist for workers to improve them. To address this issue, we focus on two workers’ struggles in two lead firms following GVCs restructuring. Based on a class-relational approach, this paper highlights how : (1) the participation in GVCs further strengthens the labour-capital balance of power in favor of capital; (2) despite workers’ determination, the mismatch of collective structures and unions’ strategies largely explains their powerlessness to resist GVCs restructuring; (3) the collective action and the solidarity emerging during the conflict pave the way for individual resistance and divisions among workers respectively once the conflict ends. Finally, the paper questions current labour strategies and imagines new ones in order to contrast employers’ power in GVCs.


WP 1 - 2018 [PDF 973KB]

Walmart in Brazilian Stores: Part of a global strategy?

Patrícia Rocha Lemos

University of Campinas, Brazil, CESIT - Centro Estudos Sindicais e do Trabalho, Centre on Labour and Global Production QMUL,


The aim of this paper is to understand how working conditions and labour management practices in Brazilian Walmart stores can be understood as part of the company's “global strategy”. On the basis of a relational approach, this paper argues that working conditions and management practices at the point of sales in Brazil result from a complex articulation between global changes and global trends with more local and national arrangements. It also argues that working conditions perpetrated in the United States Walmart Stores cannot be completely replicated in Brazil mainly due to the role played by national institutions. At the same time, new technological developments and management practices, reinforced by Walmart’s corporate ideology at the workplace, has shaped policies followed in Brazilian Stores. In particular, seeking to understand how Walmart can press for the intensification of work effort and for filling the porosities of the work time it is necessary to consider the historically precarious national labour conditions, the workers' point of view and the role played by unions.


WP 2 - 2017 [PDF 495KB]

The Common as a Mode of Production: Towards a critique of the political economy of common goods

Carlo Vercellone

Professor of Economics at the Université de Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and a member of CEMTI and of the Laboratory of Economics,


What is the common? What are its foundations? Is it a set of well-defined resources – so called common goods – or a generic principle governing the social organisation of production? These questions need to be asked because the debate on the Common is as rich as it is confusing. On the one hand, notions such as Common in the singular, commons, common goods, common property, common-pool resources, etc., are at times used as synonymous and at others as opposite, with no clear-cut definition. On the other hand, debates frequently lose sight of the extent to which these terms are used to cover highly differentiated approaches not only to theory, but also to the political role that the Common might play in projects of social transformation. The purpose of the book is to contribute to clarify these questions through a multidisciplinary approach that combines theory and history. The aim is twofold. The first is to provide the reader with a guide to a critical analysis of the main economic and legal theories of common goods. Particular attention is granted to the benefits and limitations of Elinor Ostrom’s contribution and to the debate on the so-called tragedy of the commons. This survey of the literature serves the purpose of showing what the Common is not, or, at least, what it should not be reduced to. The second aim is to put forward an approach that is alternative to that of political economy. In this framework, the Common is theorised as an actual “mode of production”.


WP 1 - 2017 [PDF 744KB]

Taking Labour Rights Seriously in Post-Brexit UK Trade Agreements: Protect, Promote, Empower

James Harrison, School of Law, University of Warwick,

Ben Richardson, Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick,

Liam Campling, School of Business and Management, Queen Mary University London,

Adrian Smith, School of Geography, Queen Mary University London,

Mirela Barbu, School of Geography, Queen Mary University London,


This paper explores how labour rights should be addressed within the UK’s post-Brexit trade agreements. It argues that the rhetoric in the UK and key trading partners, most notably the EU and the US, about making ‘trade work for all’ ought to be translated into meaningful commitments in the trade deals that the UK seeks to conclude. However, there are dangers this will not happen, including the possibility of reproducing the weaknesses and limitations of labour provisions found in current EU and US trade agreements. The paper therefore advances three principles of ‘protect, promote and empower’ to guide analysis of how progressive trade-related labour rights could be legally enacted by the UK government and its trading partners.


WP 4 - 2016 [PDF 3,161KB]

Community through Corporatization? The case of Spanish nurses in the German care industry

Mark Bergfeld, Queen Mary University of London,


Germany’s labor shortage in the care sector has facilitated the commercial recruitment of Spanish nurses affected by the crisis to work in private care companies. This research analyses how nurses are recruited to Germany, and how employers use these to save labor costs up- and downstream in the care chain. I show how these corporate practices in care undermine the possibility of solidarity and community between care-users and care-workers as well as how management manufactures divisions of labor to control the workforce. Inadvertently, this engenders the very conditions for worker organization to emerge among Spanish nurses.


WP 2 - 2016 [PDF 2,146KB]

Uneven development patterns in global value chains: An empirical inquiry based on a conceptualization of GVCs as a specific form of the division of labor

Bruno Carballa Smichowski, CEPN – Université Paris XIII,

Cédric Durand, CEPN – Université Paris XIII,

Steven Knauss, CEPN – Université Paris XIII,


This paper has three interconnected aims:  proposing a novel and rigorous definition of a global value chain (GVC) that more easily permits the delineation of its frontiers; creating new indicators of GVC participation and value capture that can overcome the limitations of the existing ones; and offering empirical evidence demonstrating that participation in global value chains is part of an uneven development process that produces a variety of distinct integration patterns that differ with respect to economic and social outcomes.

The paper is structured as follows. Section 1 offers a definition of GVCs that conceives the latter as a specific form of the division of labor and therefore facilitates the delineation of the frontiers of a GVC. Building on this definition, Section 2 proposes new indicators to measure GVC participation and value capture. Section 3 provides empirical evidence to argue that, contrary to what mainstream economics and international organizations state, larger participation in GVCs does not necessarily lead to higher levels of value capture. Section 4 offers some theoretical justifications to interpret these findings and adds other measures such as the level of productive investment and dimensions of social outcomes in order to better understand differentiated development patterns in GVCs. Sections 5, 6 and 7 empirically show the heterogeneity of development patterns in GVCs for 51 countries between 1995 and 2008. Using country-level data on GVC participation, value capture, investment rates and social indicators (Gini coefficient, labor’s share of income, median income and employment rate), we perform a principal component analysis and a cluster analysis. We find three distinct development patterns in GVCs: reproduction of the core, immiserizing growth, and a social upgrading mirage. We conclude by underlying the apparent complementarity between these development patterns and by identifying some limitations of the paper that open the way to further research.


WP 1 - 2016 [PDF 1,136KB]

Global Value Chains and Labour Standards in the European Union’s Free Trade Agreements: The Missing Link between International Trade Regulation and Global Production?

Mirela Barbu*, Liam Campling**, Adrian Smith*, James Harrison and Ben Richardson††

*School of Geography, Queen Mary University of London, United Kingdom (corresponding author Adrian Smith:

**School of Business and Management, Queen Mary University of London, United Kingdom

School of Law, University of Warwick, United Kingdom

††School of Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick, United Kingdom


This paper investigates the extent to which the labour standards provisions in the European Union’s (EU) recent free trade agreements are capable of having an effect on working conditions in global value chains.  The paper argues it is vital to develop an understanding of how legal and institutional mechanisms established by these agreements intersect with global value chain (GVC) governance dynamics in contrasting political economies. An analytical framework is developed for assessing the implementation of labour standards in FTAs that draws upon GVC approaches. The paper then applies this framework to explore how governance arrangements and power relations between lead firms and local producers play out in two contrasting value chains and national contexts.  This analysis demonstrates how labour standards provisions in EU trade agreements are faced with a range of differentiated environments, and that there are serious difficulties in creating meaningful change in global value chains given the limitations of the EU’s current model of labour standards provisions.  The paper finishes with some ideas for how EU FTAs might better support efforts to enhance labour standards in global value chains in the future.

Upcoming events

Ecology, labour and the climate crisis. A discussion with Stefania Barca and Jason W. Moore.

Wednesday 30 June 2021 3-5pm (UK time)

Zoom registration link:

Stefania Barca will present On keeping the world alive. Ecology, labour and the "forces of reproduction”.  The concept of "forces of reproduction", coming from socialist ecofeminism, offers a fresh perspective on the nexus between labour and ecology in the capitalist system. This presentation will discuss the genesis, potentialities and limits of the concept as a tool for capturing the interlocked nature of ecological and care crises.

Jason W. Moore will present on Superexploitation in the Web of Life: The Origins of the Climate Class Divide, Climate Patriarchy, Climate Apartheid. The history of class society is a climate history. From the mid-Holocene stabilization of atmospheric carbon dioxide, class society has been at once a producer and product of climate history. Across the millennia, unfavorable climate changes have destabilized ruling classes. Identifying key moments of climate/class crises – not collapse – since the Bronze Age crisis, this talk foregrounds a class struggle account of the rise of capitalism, webs of life, and worldwide class formation. Tracing the emergence of the Planetary Proletariat through the genocidal thrust of New World invasion and the ensuing “long, cold seventeenth century” – the worst of the Little Ice Age – Moore argues that capitalism survived the era’s harrowing climatological conditions through an imperialist climate fix that enforced the superexploitation of racialized and gendered semi-proletariats. The climate class divide, climate patriarchy, and climate apartheid are not the results – but the causes – of today’s planetary crisis. Any assessment of the climate crisis that denies class struggles in the web of life will lead to unduly partial – and ineffectual – historical assessments and political strategies

Stefania Barca is Zennström professor in Climate Change Leadership at the University of Uppsala. She is an environmental historian who specialized on the labour/nature/gender nexus in the industrial era. Her latest book, Forces of Reproduction. Notes for a Counter-hegemonic Anthropocene, was published in 2020 by Cambridge University Press.

Jason W. Moore is Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University. He is an environmental historian and historical geographer. His Recent books include A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things (California, 2017); Anthropocene or Capitalocene? (PM Press, 2016); and Capitalism in the Web of Life (Verso, 2015).

Past events


Thursday 25 of February 3-4.30pm onlineDemet Sahende Dinler, University of Sussex, 'Designing Fair Markets: An Ethnography of Cut Flower Auctions in Turkey'.


9 December 2020, 2-4pm: Book launch of Jairus Banaji’s A Brief History of Commercial Capitalism (Haymarket, 2020) with Jairus Banaji and discussants Henry Bernstein and Fahad Ahmad Bishara

Watch the video recording of the December 2020 book launch here.

Thursday 25 of June, 3-5pm: Aris Martinelli, Geneva School of Social Sciences, 'Why workers’ determination is not enough, A case study of workers’ struggles in Swiss GVCs' 

Thursday 21 May 2020 4-6pm: Social reproduction and race: intersections between capitalism and colonialism - and a rejoinder in light of the current crisis. 
Brenna Bhandar, School of Law, SOAS, 'Points of Contact: critical race feminism and social reproduction at the neoliberal conjuncture'
Sara Salem, Department of Sociology, LSE, and Mai Taha, Department of Law,  American University in Cairo, 'Vignettes on Social Reproduction: Gender, Empire and Capital in an Egyptian Century'  

Thursday 23 January 2020, 3-5pm, Bancroft: 3.36, Labour mobility in the production–social reproduction nexus: Between crisis resolution and (re)constitution of uneven and combined Europe, Gregory Schwartz, University of Bristol


Thursday 3-5pm, 15 November, Susan Newman (University of the West of England)- ‘The making of a global commodity: restructuring of the dairy industry’. Bancroft Building, room: 1.02.3.

Tuesday 6pm, 13 November, Screening of Workers (2018), followed by discussion with Jay Gearing (Red 7 Productions, Director) and Ben Rogaly (University of Sussex, Producer) - in conjunction with the Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences theme on "Work". Room G19, Hitchcock Cinema, Arts 1.

Tuesday 4-6pm, 13 November, Workshop on ‘Work at the Margins’ in conjunction with the Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences theme on ‘Work’. The City Centre Seminar Room, second floor, Bancroft Building.

Wednesday 3-5pm, 31 October, Gale Raj-Reichert (School of Geography, Queen Mary University of London), Leonhard Plank (Technical University of Vienna), and Cornelia Staritz (University of Vienna). ‘Theorising socially responsible public procurement within global production networks’.  The City Centre Seminar Room, second floor, Bancroft Building.

Wednesday 30 October 2019 3-5pm, Hedge Funds, Private Equity and the Shadowy World of Mayfair, a walking tour by Angus McNallly, School of Politics and International Relations Queen Mary University of London.

Thursday 3 October 2019 3-5pm,  CLGP research roundtable on ‘what are you up to?’, room 4.27A FB, Mile End

26 June, CLGP annual workshop ‘Social Reproduction Within and Beyond Production: Old and New Challenges for the Analysis of Work and Workers’. Organisers: Elena Baglioni (QMUL), Clair Quentin (QMUL), Hannah Schling (KCL)
Presentations by:  Stefania Barca, Senior researcher at the University of Coimbra; Gargi Bhattacharyya, Prof. of Sociology, University of East London; Silvia Federici, Professor Emerita of New College, Hofstra University NY; Alessandra Mezzadri, Senior Lecturer in Development Studies, SOAS; Bridget O'Laughlin, Former researcher at the Institute of Social Sciences (ISS, Netherland) and current editor of the Journal of Agrarian Change; Clair Quentin, Research Associate, KCL Policy Institute, and PhD student at Queen Mary University and Research Associate; and Sigrid Vertommen, Research associate at the Department of Sociology, University of Cambridge.
Watch now. 

Thurs 3-5pm, 16 May, Peter Cole, Department of History, Western Illinois University. Book launch: Dockworker Power: Race and Activism in Durban and the San Francisco Bay Area (University of Illinois Press).

Thurs 3-5pm, 2 May, James Brown, School of Geography, Queen Mary University of London, ‘Labour geographies of development in Laos: Class formation, care and complex livelihoods’.

Thurs 4-6pm, 21 March, Alexis Wearmouth, School of Business & Management, Queen Mary University of London. 'Value, information and resource flows in the Calcutta-Dundee textile value chain, 1870-1919'.

Thurs 4-6pm, 7 March, Nithya Natarajan, Department of Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London. ‘Indecent work and economic growth in SDG 8: The perils of financial inclusion and growth among unfree brick workers in Cambodia’.

Thurs 4-6pm, 14 February, Hannah Schling, PhD Candidate, Department of Geography, King's College London. ‘(Re)producing the “disposable” EU worker: Work agencies and worker dormitories in the Czech Republic's export-oriented manufacturing sector’.

Thurs 4-6pm, 10 January, Dae-oup Chang, Department of Global Korean Studies, Sogang University, Seoul, South Korea. ‘Transnational Labour Regimes and the Mutation of Neoliberal Development in Cambodia’.


 28-29 June 2018

The Post-Wage Economy: Re-theorising ‘work’ across the global North-South divide

An interdisciplinary workshop hosted by the School of Geography, and the Centre on Labour and Global Production, QMUL.

What are the emerging drivers and conditions of the post-wage economy across the world? How are these features experienced locally (e.g. through workers’ relationship with the state, the market and the household)? What are the key geographies of difference?

To what extent are these conditions captured by dominant concepts of work, such as those of precarity and informality? What is the genealogy of these concepts? To what extent do they enable or restrict South-North comparison?

What alternative theories are emerging based on the experiences of people provisioning outside of waged labour? What possibilities do these theories provide for reconceptualising the social, political and spatio-temporal boundaries of ‘work’?

Graduate Centre, QMUL Mile End Campus, London


Thursday 14 June 2018

‘The Labour of Logistics: Workers and resistance across global supply chains’

One-day workshop organised by the Centre on Labour and Global Production

Victor Figueroa, Lead researcher on new technology and the future of work, International Transport Workers Federation

Katy Fox-Hodess, Lecturer in work, employment, people and organizations at the University of Sheffield

Andy Green, Dock worker and UNITE workplace representative

Patricia Rocha Lemos, PhD Researcher, University of Campinas, Centre for Labour Economics and Trade Unionism

Kim Moody, Author, On New Terrain: How capital is reshaping the battleground of class struggle

Sian Moore, Professor in Employment Relations and Human Resource Management, University of Greenwich

Kirsty Newsome, Professor in Employment Relations, University of Sheffield

The ‘logistics revolution’ has been a central element in a global reorganisation of capitalist production. Container shipping has experienced astronomical growth in recent decades: from 102 million tons in 1980 to 1.631 billion tons in 2014; a sixteen-fold increase. The expansion of intermodal transportation has accompanied the development of tightly managed global supply chains, as commodities are shipped across the world, moved through ports and distribution centres and delivered to retailers or the customer’s doorstep. From the shipping container to the Amazon package, the ubiquity of logistics is an increasingly prominent factor in everyday life.

Behind these processes lies a story of increasing intensification of the labour process for millions of workers. So called “just-in-time” delivery methods that demand regularity and predictability, and ever-increasing levels of standardisation and automation to guarantee that reliability, have reshaped logistics work. Ports, which have been bastions of trade union strength, have seen precipitous declines in their workforces – between 1961 and 2001 over 90 percent of dock work was lost in the UK. Increasing numbers of logistics workers find themselves employed in high pressure and low wage work in distribution centres and courier services. These workers are typically unorganised, with managements that fiercely resist attempts at unionisation. Yet in in the context of tightly integrated networks of production, logistics workers have tremendous potential disruptive power.

In this workshop, we will discuss these developments and attempt to answer a series of questions: How is logistics work changing around the world? What forms of resistance do these transformations engender? And what opportunities and challenges exist for organising workers across the sector?

Room GC 201, Graduate Centre, QMUL Mile End Campus, London

Monday 14 May 2018, 5-7pm

Development with global value chains: Upgrading and innovation in Asia 

Book launch seminar

by Dev Nathan, Meenu Tewari, and Sandip Sarkar, Cambridge University Press (Series on Development Trajectories in Global Value Chains)


Dev Nathan, Institute for Human Development, India, and Duke Global Value Chain Center, USA 

Gale Raj-Reichert, School of Geography, QMUL

Can firms and economies utilize GVCs for development? How can they move from low-income to middle-income and even high-income status? This book addresses these questions through a series of case studies examining upgradation and innovation by firms operating in GVCs in Asia. The countries studied are China, India, South Korea, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka, with studies of firms operating in varied sectors aerospace components, apparel, automotive, consumer electronics including mobile phones, telecom equipment, IT software and services, and pharmaceuticals. In the movement from low-income to middle-income status, the key industrial and firm policies are those of catching-up and learning through reverse engineering, sometimes as part of and sometimes outside GVCs. However, what suppliers actually do to internalize and build upon what they learn through ties with buyers is the crucial factor in effecting upgradation. In moving beyond catch-up, however, securing rents is important. This can be done through securing process rents. However, higher rents are earned through product innovation, which enable firms and economies to develop as headquarters of value chains and overcome the middle-income trap. The acquisition and development of knowledge and capabilities drive the processes of upgrading and innovation.

Location: Geography Room 220

Registration via is recommended.


Thursday 15 February 2018, 4-6pm

On New Terrain: How Capital is Reshaping the Battleground of Class War

Book launch seminar

by Kim Moody, Visiting Scholar at Centre for the Study of the Production of the Built Environment, University of Westminster, Labor Notes founder and activist.

The Centre on Labour and Global Production hosts a book launch for Kim Moody's eagerly awaited On New Terrain: How Capital is Reshaping the Battleground of Class War (Haymarket Books, 2017). While many accounts claim that the working class can no longer exercise power as it once could, Moody traces developments in the global economy to locate new concentrations of capital potentially vulnerable to collective action, with particular focus on the logistics and services sectors. If workers can organise effectively, Moody argues, then capital remains vulnerable to class struggle in the twenty-first century. This talk will therefore be of interest not only to those specifically studying logistics or other important sectors in today’s economy, but anyone grappling with questions of how workers can still win.

City Centre Seminar Room, 2nd Floor, Francis Bancroft Building, QMUL Mile End Campus



Thursday 30 December 2017, 4-6pm

Session on finance and global production networks

‘Variegated Firm Finance in Global Production Networks: Car Component Manufacturers in Hungary and Eastern Germany’

Emile Boustani, School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, Newcastle University

City Centre Seminar Room, 2nd Floor, Francis Bancroft Building, QMUL Mile End Campus


Thursday 14 December 2017, 4-6pm

‘The Common as a Mode of Production’

Carlo Vercellone, Professor of Economics at the Université de Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and a member of CEMTI and of the Laboratory of Economics.

Carlo Vercellone presents research from the new book The Common as a mode of production. Towards a critique of the political economy of common goods (Verona: Ombre Corte, 2017). What is the common? What are its foundations? Is it a set of well-defined resources – so called common goods – or a generic principle governing the social organisation of production? These questions need to be asked because the debate on the Common is as rich as it is confusing. On the one hand, notions such as Common, in the singular, commons, common goods, common property, common-pool resources, etc., are at times used as synonymous and at others as opposite, with no clear-cut definition. On the other hand, debates frequently lose sight of the extent to which these terms are used to cover highly differentiated approaches not only to theory, but also to the political role that the Common might play in projects of social transformation.

The purpose of the book is to contribute to clarify these questions through a multidisciplinary approach that combines theory and history. The aim is twofold. The first is to provide the reader with a guide to a critical analysis of the main economic and legal theories of common goods. Particular attention is granted to the benefits and limitations of Elinor Ostrom’s contribution and to the debate on the so-called tragedy of the commons. This survey of the literature serves the purpose of showing what the Common is not, or, at least, what it should not be reduced to. The second aim is to put forward an approach that is alternative to that of political economy. In this framework, the Common is theorised as an actual “mode of production”.

City Centre Seminar Room, 2nd Floor, Francis Bancroft Building, QMUL Mile End Campus


Thursday 16 November 2017 [PDF 738KB]

‘Uneven development in global value chains’

One-day workshop co-organised by the Centre d’Economies de l’Université Paris Nord (CEPN), and Centre on Labour and Global Production QMUL (CLGP)

‘Producing:  A labour regimes perspective’, Elena Baglioni and Liam Campling, CLGP

Discussant, Peter Gibbon, Danish Institute for International Studies

‘Value, tax and global inequality chains’, David Quentin, CLGP

‘The trade-labour nexus’, Adrian Smith, CLGP

‘The financialisation-globalization nexus’, Tristan Auvray, CEPN

‘Standards as power: the case of transatlantic trade negotiations’, Benjamin Burbaumer, CEPN

‘The monopolization of the intellectual forces of production’, Cedric Durand, CEPN

‘Upgrading/ downgrading: An economic perspective’, Steven Knauss, CEPN

‘Governing: A critical management perspective’, Florence Palpacuer, Université de Montpellier

‘The limits of corporate social responsibility’, Corinne Vercher, CEPN


Thursday 2 November 2017, 4-6pm

Book launch seminar

The Last Day of Oppression, and the First Day of the Same: The Politics and Economics of the New Latin American Left

Jeffery R. Webber, School of Politics and International Relations, QMUL

This talk will explain the political dynamics and conflicts underpinning the contradictory evolution of left-wing governments and social movements in Latin America in the last two decades. Throughout the 2000s, Latin America transformed itself into the leading edge of anti-neoliberal resistance in the world. What is left of the Pink Tide today? What are the governments’ relationships to the explosive social movements that propelled them to power? As China’s demand slackens for Latin American commodities, will they continue to rely on natural resource extraction? This talk is grounded in an analysis of trends in capitalist accumulation from 1990 to 2015, in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Venezuela. It explains inequality there today through a Marxist framework, rooted in a new understanding of class and its complex associations with racial and gender oppression. The talk will also cover indigenous and peasant resistance to the expansion of private mining, agro-industry and natural gas and oil activities. Finally, the presentation will conclude with remarks on “passive revolution” in Bolivia under Evo Morales and debates around dual power and class composition during the era of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.

City Centre Seminar Room, 2nd Floor, Francis Bancroft Building, QMUL Mile End Campus


Thursday 7 September 2017, 4-6pm

Session on labour in industrial fisheries:

‘Fish, Boats and Crews: Working and Living Conditions in the Fishing Sector of Turkey’

Umut Ulukan, Department of Labour Economics and Industrial Relations, Ordu University, Turkey


‘Labour regimes in the tuna industry in the Western Indian Ocean: Connecting boats, ports and factories’

Liam Campling, Director of CLGP, School of Business and Management, QMUL

City Centre Seminar Room, 2nd Floor, Francis Bancroft Building, QMUL Mile End Campus


Thursday 22 June 2017, 2pm – 6pm **open to the public**

'Chinese labour regimes: mutations, expansions, resistance'

A Centre on Labour and Global Production workshop with

Rutvica Andrijasevic  (University of Bristol)

Anastasia Frantzeskaki (Port Employees Federation of Greece)

Giorgos Gogos (Head of the Piraeus dockworkers union, Greece)

Gaochao He (Sun Yat-Sen University and Harvard Law School)

Pun Ngai (University of Hong Kong)

Carlos Oya (SOAS) and

Tim Pringle (SOAS)

“The ongoing wave of strikes in China is the latest manifestation of a dynamic that can be summed up in the phrase: where capital goes, labor-capital conflict shortly follows.” --- Beverly Silver

The emergence of China as a global economic power in recent decades has been striking – Its ~10% per annum GDP growth since 1989 is but one indication. This economic boom has been accompanied by enormous changes to the domestic labour market, as hundreds of millions have made the change from rural agricultural to urban industrial workers. At the same time, strikes by workers have been rising since 2004, and have intensified since 2010, when the government stopped releasing official statistics. In 2016, China Labour Bulletin had recorded 2,662 worker collective actions – an increase of 20% from a year before.

Meanwhile, Chinese capital has been flowing overseas in search of new investment opportunities, with over $130 billion invested last year alone, an increase of 55 percent on 2015. Major investments stretch across the globe, from Latin America (the canal in Nicaragua) to Europe (the Port of Piraeus in Greece) and Africa (natural resource extraction throughout the continent), competing increasingly with North America and European capital under greater pressure due to the differential impact of the economic crisis.

At this workshop, we will discuss these developments and attempt to answer a series of questions: What kinds of labour regimes are emerging in China and in Chinese owned firms abroad? What forms of resistance do they engender? And what opportunities and challenges exist for linking the struggles of workers in China with the struggles of workers in Chinese owned firms abroad?

The workshop is free but please register here so we have an idea of numbers attending:

Room GC201, Graduate Centre, QMUL Mile End Campus


Thursday 27 April 2017, 4-6pm

‘The Struggle for Development’

Ben Selwyn (University of Sussex),

Room 4.27a (Boardroom), Francis Bancroft, QMUL Mile End Campus


Thursday 9 February 2017, 4-6pm

‘Democracy, Leadership and the foundations of im/migrant worker power: A comparative analysis of im/migrant worker organisations in Berlin, New York and London’

Mark Bergfeld (School of Business and Management, QMUL)

The City Centre Seminar Room, 2nd Floor, Francis Bancroft Building, QMUL Mile End Campus


Thursday 26 January 2017, 4-6pm

Reading group on Guido Starosta (2016) ‘Revisiting the New International Division of Labour Thesis’, in The New International Division of Labour Global Transformation and Uneven Development, edited by Greig Charnock and Guido Starosta, Palgrave Macmillan

The City Centre Seminar Room, 2nd Floor, Francis Bancroft Building, QMUL Mile End Campus



Thursday 8 December 2016, 4-6pm

‘Human Rights or Class Struggle? Varieties of Dockworker Unionism in Latin America’

Katy Fox-Hodess (University of California-Berkeley)

The City Centre Seminar Room, 2nd Floor, Francis Bancroft Building, QMUL Mile End Campus


Monday 28 November 2016, 4-6pm **open to the public, please register in advance**

‘Uneven development patterns in global value chains: An empirical inquiry based on a conceptualization of GVCs as a specific form of the division of labor’ (with Bruno Carballa Smichowski and Steven Knauss)

Cédric Durand (Centre d'Economie de l'Université Paris 13)

The City Centre Seminar Room, 2nd Floor, Francis Bancroft Building, QMUL Mile End Campus


Thursday 17 November 2016, 4-6pm

‘Global Value Chains and Labour Standards in the European Union’s Free Trade Agreements’

Mirela Barbu, Liam Campling and Adrian Smith (Queen Mary University of London) (with James Harrison and Ben Richardson)

The City Centre Seminar Room, 2nd Floor, Francis Bancroft Building, QMUL Mile End Campus


Thursday 3 November 2016, 4-6pm

Reading group session on financialisation and labour

Cushon, J. and Thompson, P. (2016) ‘Financialization and value: why labour and the labour process still matter’, Work, Employment and Society, 30 (2): 352-365

Tony Norfield 2016, ‘Finance, Economics and Politics’, Salvage, (August)

Room 4.27a (Boardroom), Francis Bancroft Building, QMUL Mile End Campus

Working Beyond the Border: Labour Standards and Free Trade Agreements

This research examines the effects of the European Union’s approach to trade and sustainable development in ‘third countries’ and the extent to which this approach provides for meaningful improvement in working conditions in the global economy. It involves collaboration with CLGP members in the Schools of Business and Management (Liam Campling) and of Geography (Adrian SmithMirela Barbu) at QMUL, and colleagues at the University of Warwick (James Harrison (Law) and Ben Richardson (Politics and International Studies)). It investigates commitments of the EU to improve labour standards beyond its borders. It focuses on the EU pledge “to put more of its commercial weight behind efforts to promote social standards and decent work in bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations”, which has been trumpeted in the labour standards provisions contained in “new generation” free trade agreements (FTAs) as a key policy mechanism for promoting labour standards in third countries.


Electronics Watch

Adrian Smith and Gale Raj-Reichert are advisory board members of Electronics Watch. Electronics Watch is a non-profit, non-governmental initiative which organises public sector buyers, provides tools to create effective market demand for decent working conditions (e.g. contract clauses), and monitors working conditions to ensure compliance in factories. Adrian Smith and Gale Raj-Reichert in partnership with Electronics Watch begin a PhD project on 'Circuits of Global Labour Governance: Public Procurement and Labour Standards in the Global Electronics Industry' in September 2018. The project examines how the public sector buyers in the United Kingdom, informed by the EU Directive on Public Procurement, attempt to regulate working conditions in global supply chains. More specifically the project focuses on questions surrounding how the governance framework impacts lead firm and supplier relationships in the sector; and the experience of public procurement regulation as an emergent new relationship between the state, public sector governance and labour conditions in globalised production networks.


Global Tuna Production, International Trade and Development

Liam Campling’s (CLGP Director, School of Business and Management, QMUL) research on the global tuna industry, the international trade regime and developing countries, and his ongoing policy collaboration with development agencies, trade unions and NGOs (a combination of commissioned and pro-bono work), has contributed to several impacts. Three sets of impacts were highlighted in his REF2016 Case Study: (1) influencing trade policy, regulation and legislation to support developing countries, including at the WTO; (2) improving labour conditions in tuna processing facilities in Papua New Guinea (PNG); and, (3) influencing public debate and understanding of fisheries industry and policy. Read more on this.

Book launch of Jairus Banaji’s A Brief History of Commercial Capitalism (Haymarket, 2020)

The rise of capitalism to global dominance is still largely associated with the industrial capitalism that made its decisive breakthrough in 18th century Britain. Jairus Banaji’s new work reaches back centuries and traverses vast distances to argue that this leap was preceded by a long era of distinct “commercial capitalism”, which reorganised labor and production on a world scale to a degree hitherto rarely appreciated.

Rather than a picture centred solely on Europe, we enter a diverse and vibrant world. Banaji reveals the cantons of Muslim merchants trading in Guangzhou since the eighth century, the 3,000 European traders recorded in Alexandria in 1216, the Genoese, Venetians and Spanish Jews battling for commercial dominance of Constantinople and later Istanbul. We are left with a rich and global portrait of a world constantly in motion, tied together and increasingly inflected by a pre-industrial capitalism. The rise of Europe to world domination, in this view, has nothing to do with any unique genius, but rather a distinct fusion of commercial capitalism with state power.

Watch the video recording of the December 2020 book launch with Jairus Banaji and discussants Henry Bernstein and Fahad Ahmad Bishara

The CLGP’s social reproduction series

Analysis of contemporary global capitalism increasingly incorporates social reproduction upstream and downstream of production as an integral dimension of both the production and distribution of value. This tradition draws from path breaking work and debates in the 1970s and 1980s, but much has changed in contemporary capitalism where social relations of production have spread more widely and deeply across the globe. The commodification of new areas, spheres, and workers proceeds by simultaneously intensifying, changing, and restructuring gender and race as fundamental disciplinary systems that both sustain the production of commodities and the reproduction of workers, while the value they produce is obscured by ever more complex formations within global production networks. By de-fetishizing both the production of commodities and the reproduction of labour and re-constituting them as capitalist processes and projects, social reproduction analysis de-naturalises and problematizes fundamental categories in our everyday analyses, such as work, home, gender, nature, and value. The sudden exposure of the multiple dimensions of social reproduction has been further unveiled by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the ensuing crisis across the circuit of capital and the exposition of the massive infrastructure of care and key work sustaining it. As this social reproduction factory forcefully surfaces through everyday life, it becomes more urgent to analyse and contest its capitalist basis.