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Production beyond the horizon of consumption: spatial fixes and anti-sweatshop struggles in the global athletic footwear industry

Merk, Jeroen (2011) Production beyond the horizon of consumption: spatial fixes and anti-sweatshop struggles in the global athletic footwear industry. Global Society, 25 (1 (S)). pp. 73-95. ISSN 1360-0826

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Identification Number: 10.1080/13600826.2010.522984

Abstract

Transnational outsourcing makes it possible for Western companies to access the enormous labour reserves in countries such as China, India or Bangladesh without entering into formal (contractual) relations with these workers. It provides global buyers with an opportunity to disassociate themselves from (labour-intensive) production activities, and thereby from struggles over wages, environment, conditions of work and reproduction. In this context, workers are increasingly treated as a subcontracted component rather than a fixture as part of employer organisations. Drawing upon concepts derived from human and labour geography, this paper takes one labour-intensive sector—athletic footwear—as a case study of how the transnationalisation of production has resulted in a sweatshop model, while simultaneously transforming the athletic footwear industry into a site of social struggle. This paper looks at how global buyers have used relocation as a spatial fix for crises of profitability and labour control, but also pays attention to countervailing tendencies such as the emergence of a global anti-sweatshop movement, and the influence of codes of conduct on working conditions, which adds an extra-local dimension to labour relations.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/cgsj20
Additional Information: © 2011 University of Kent
Divisions: International Relations
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Date Deposited: 07 May 2014 12:40
Last Modified: 20 May 2020 02:27
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/56655

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