SOAS University of London

Department of Economics

"The Flexible Seamstress": Global South Suppliers and the New Economic Imperialism (Webinar)

Intan Suwandi (Illinois State University)

Date: 2 December 2020Time: 4:00 PM

Finishes: 2 December 2020Time: 5:30 PM

Venue: Virtual Event

Type of Event: Virtual Webinar

Mainstream perspectives often highlight the decentralized characteristics of global commodity chains, suggesting that power among the major actors within these chains is also decentralized. In addition, there are disagreements on the left regarding whether the world economy today remains imperialistic. A calculation of cross-national variation in unit labor costs in manufacturing, along with case studies of Indonesian suppliers, shows that despite the seemingly decentralized networks, and notwithstanding the existing complexities that characterize global commodity chains, the capital-labor relations inherent in these chains are still imperialistic in their configurations.

This talk focuses on the case studies, which are directed at getting beyond mere generalization and macrolevel analysis to the illustration of particular concrete cases of “flexible production,” imposed externally by multinationals. Interviews with top executives of these suppliers allow us, among other things, to see the “rules” of corporate management: how they manage their workers on the one hand, and business relations with multinational clients on the other. In the end, the examination of these management practices serves as a window to comprehend the unequal capital-labor relations within global commodity chains.

This is part of a webinar series "Intensifying Inequalities and the Limitations of Global Capitalism", organised by the SOAS Department of Economics.

Speaker: Intan Suwandi (Illinois State University)

Discussant: Susan Newman (Open University)

The webinar is open to all and there is no need for registration. All our webinars are recorded and will be made available on this webpage at a later date.