Table of Contents

Handbook of the International Political Economy of Production

Handbook of the International Political Economy of Production

Handbooks of Research on International Political Economy series

Edited by Kees van der Pijl

This Handbook provides a state-of-the-art overview of the changing world of global production. Chapters cover the geography of why and where jobs are moving in both manufacturing and services. The authors discuss topics relating to the human and natural basis on which production rests, from the consequences of exploitation and marginalization on body and mind, to sex work, biotechnology, and the prospects for ecological re-balancing. This Handbook will appeal to academics at all levels interested in political economy, international studies and politics, as well as trade unionists and NGO activists.

Chapter 8: Standardizing services: transnational authority and market power

Jean-Christophe Graz

Subjects: economics and finance, political economy, politics and public policy, political economy, social policy and sociology, labour policy


When asked in 2007 which fields of standardization will be the most active in the coming years, Alan Bryden, former Secretary General of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), was straightforward in stating that ‘one of our biggest challenges is precisely how to address the service sector’ (interview with the author). While standards supposedly lead to greater rationality and coherence in distinct industries and services, all of them also give rise to ongoing struggles in complex configurations of power involving multiple actors including multinational corporations, organized interests and state regulators. This chapter relies on global political economy approaches that uncover the power relations exercised on a transnational basis in the area of service standards. It assumes that the process of globalization is not opposing states and markets, but a convergence of processes involving both of them, with new patterns of formal and informal power and regulatory practices arising at the intersection of the two. Of these, standards are a key aspect.

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