- Handbooks of Research on International Political Economy series
Edited by Kees van der Pijl
Chapter 6: The grapes of wrath: social upgrading and class struggles in global value chains
Over the last three decades there has been an enormous expansion of the global labouring class – from 1.1 billion people in 1980 to 3.05 billion in 2005 (Kapsos 2007: 13). Increasing numbers of workers work within globalized production systems. A core question for those concerned with the IPE of production is the extent to which employment within these globalized systems can yield meaningful work, and contribute to sustainable and thriving livelihoods for the expanding global working class. This chapter investigates this question through an interrogation of two interlinked conceptions of better work: the concept of ‘social upgrading’ and the International Labour Organization’s conception of ‘Decent Work’. The concept of social upgrading has been proposed by leading practitioners within the global commodity chain, global value chain and global production network frameworks (GCC, GVC and GPN, respectively; Barrientos et al. 2011; Milberg and Winkler 2010).
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