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Marion Werner and Jennifer Bair

In this chapter, the authors argue for a shift in the primary focus of global value chain (GVC) analysis from chain incorporation and its consequences for firms and regions, to the problematic of uneven development, that is, the patterned and contingent process whereby capital accumulates to some actors in some places in relation to the subordinate incorporation or exclusion of other actors and places. To do so, they outline what they call a disarticulations perspective. Their approach explores the relationship between strategies of incorporation and continued inclusion in global value chains, and long-standing and emerging forms of territorial and social unevenness in the global economy. Re-reading GVC studies through a disarticulations lens, they argue that global value chains must be viewed as dynamic mechanisms that take their shape from extant patterns of uneven development, while transforming them in turn at multiple scales. The ultimate goal of a disarticulations approach is not only to offer a finer-grained understanding of contemporary patterns of uneven development; it is also to re-centre political questions of winners and losers in the global economy and ask how scholarship on global value chains might address the resulting challenges.