Chapter 46: Innovation, development and global destruction networks
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Contemporary capitalism produces huge quantities of commodities whose use value is frequently short-lived, often because capitalists’ need to secure profits involves the planned obsolescence of their products. Such waste, however, regularly contains valuable materials which can be retrieved and reused as inputs for new commodities. In this chapter, then, we explore the economic paths – what we call Global Destruction Networks (GDNs) – through which some of this waste travels as it is processed and its components recovered. In many ways, these GDNs are Other to the more familiar Global Production Networks (GPNs) in which commodities are first assembled, except that they involve the taking apart of discarded products. The chapter outlines three GDNs – those involving e-waste, shipping and vehicles – to argue that an important mechanism by which to connect the workings of GDNs with those of GPNs is through following the movement of value, conceptualised here in Marxian terms of congealed labour.

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