Table of Contents

Towards a Cultural Political Economy

Towards a Cultural Political Economy

Putting Culture in its Place in Political Economy

Ngai-Ling Sum and Bob Jessop

This fascinating volume offers a critique of recent institutional and cultural turns in heterodox economics and political economy. Using seven case studies as examples, the authors explore how research on sense- and meaning-making can deepen critical studies in political economy, illuminating its role in critiquing the specific categories, contradictions and crisis-tendencies of capitalism.

Chapter 9: Competitiveness clusters, Wal-Martization and the (re)making of corporate social responsibilities

Ngai-Ling Sum and Bob Jessop

Subjects: economics and finance, cultural economics, institutional economics, political economy, politics and public policy, political economy, social policy and sociology, sociology and sociological theory

Extract

Competitiveness discourses and practices on cluster-building are a pervasive part of the neoliberal accumulation strategy, especially in developing countries (see Chapter 8). Some strategy firms and international organizations are engaged in recontextualizing the Harvard–Porterian brand with a view to linking clusters with the global markets. This chapter illustrates how cluster-building and the liberalization of trade in services in the global political economy mediate the rise of global retail chains such as Wal-Mart, and how Wal-Mart negotiates its corporate social responsibilities when challenged by consumer activism. This chapter has five sections. Section one elaborates the roles of strategy firms (e.g. Enright, Scott and Associates Ltd) and (inter)national institutions in visibilizing regional clusters as production, agricultural or service spaces that are (or should be) opened for global sourcing. This development on the cluster front was conjuncturally articulated to the liberalization of services (e.g. retail and banking) under the GATS agreement and to advances in information technology and logistical infrastructure.

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