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 7: Global outsourcing and socialization of labour: the case of Nike

Jeroen Merk


In this chapter I look at the athletic shoe as a microcosm of social relations. Taking the Nike sportswear company as a case in point allows us to uncover a small node in a worldwide set of interconnections, which we can deconstruct as a ‘multiplicity of social dynamics operating at different levels’ (Perrons 2004: 26; Korzeniewicz 1994: 261). With its design, components production and sourcing, assembly, transport and eventual purchase spread across countries in all corners of the globe (Vanderbilt 1998: 84; DMG 1998), deconstructing a mundane article like a Nike sneaker shows us a capitalist system not only global in reach, but also ‘globalised in terms of the functional integration of the production process itself’ (Dicken 2003, cited in Lier 2007b: 816). What little we know of those who produce the shoe we buy in a shop easily recedes behind its immediate appearance, the features that make us consider owning a pair. The world of objects appears to us as autonomous and independent from the subjects which produce it.

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