Handbooks of Research on International Political Economy series
Edited by Kees van der Pijl
Chapter 7: Global outsourcing and socialization of labour: the case of Nike
In this chapter I look at the athletic shoe as a microcosm of social relations. Taking the Nike sportswear company as a case in point allows us to uncover a small node in a worldwide set of interconnections, which we can deconstruct as a ‘multiplicity of social dynamics operating at different levels’ (Perrons 2004: 26; Korzeniewicz 1994: 261). With its design, components production and sourcing, assembly, transport and eventual purchase spread across countries in all corners of the globe (Vanderbilt 1998: 84; DMG 1998), deconstructing a mundane article like a Nike sneaker shows us a capitalist system not only global in reach, but also ‘globalised in terms of the functional integration of the production process itself’ (Dicken 2003, cited in Lier 2007b: 816). What little we know of those who produce the shoe we buy in a shop easily recedes behind its immediate appearance, the features that make us consider owning a pair. The world of objects appears to us as autonomous and independent from the subjects which produce it.
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