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Department of Development Studies

Global commodity chains, production networks and informal work

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Term 2

This course examines the impact of neoliberal globalisation on the industrial trajectories of developing countries. First, it provides an outline of the earlier consensus on industrial development and analyses how the birth of the ‘globalisation project’ led to a new international division of labour and to new industrial paradigms. Second, the course describes and analyses these new paradigms. Particular emphasis is given to the ‘localisation’ or ‘clustering’ of industrial production in development countries and to the formation of transnational production networks - today known as ‘global commodity chains’ (GCCs) or ‘global value chains’ (GVCs). Third, the course discusses the impact of industrial restructuring on labour and poverty reduction; it addresses issues of gender and mobility, and analyses the rise of global ‘social responsibility’ and labour standards and their implications for employment conditions in developing countries. Finally, the course highlights how all these trends and dynamics shape specific challenges for developing countries within neoliberal 'global' industrial scenarios

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

This course aims to familiarise students with the evolution of the industrial trajectories of developing countries, with the impact of different industrial strategies and practices, and with their consequences for development theory and practice in the era of neoliberal globalisation. At the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • appraise the impact of neoliberal policies and globalisation on the industrial patterns in developing countries
  • understand and critically assess the features of the main post-1970s industrial development models
  • compare and contrast the post-1970s industrial trajectories of different industries
  • relate industrial change to changes in patterns of labour and poverty
  • evaluate the impact of the abovementioned changes on given development policies and practices


Teaching takes place through a weekly 2 hour lecture and 1 hour tutorial.

Method of assessment

50% examination, 40% coursework, 10% presentation. Each student will be expected to submit one essay of no more than 4000 words, worth 40%. Resubmission of coursework regulations apply.