Handbook of the International Political Economy of Production
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Handbook of the International Political Economy of Production

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.
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Chapter 16: Work, power and the urban poor

Jeffrey Harrod


Throughout most of the twentieth century social unrest, political turbulence and politics were seen to originate in the conflicts between different power groups surrounding production. Even ethnically or religious based movements were couched in material terms – peasant wars of liberation were also peasant wars against landlords. In the industrialized countries politics were considered the result of the capitalist–worker relations in various disguises. During this period workplace power relations were routinely discussed under the headings of ‘industrial relations’ or in terms of Marxist class war. These constructions in turn were based on the presence of overt social organizations capable of representation. Trade unions were key in the century-long development of the idea of tripartite (state–union–employer) power relations. At the same time revolutionary political parties were said to be leading the working class, which was in a subordinate position in production.

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