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 26: Molecular biotechnologies: insights on production through the lens of reproduction

Miriam Boyer


In recent years, the life processes of various organisms, rationalized through molecular engineering, have acquired a new and increasingly important role in production. In the social sciences these transformations have been captured, on the one hand, by analyses that speculate on large-scale social transformations claimed to entail ‘a new face and a new phase of capitalism’ (Sunder Rajan 2006: 3); and on the other, by a number of studies of intellectual property regimes and resource appropriation – that is, essentially of political relations and institutions (Kinchy 2012; McAffee 2003; Pechlander and Otero 2008; Zeller 2008). Existing studies of production based on molecular biotechnologies tend to focus on economic sectors and the rise of new capitals (Cooper 2008; Parry 2004; Sunder Rajan 2006; Zeller 2010), but have largely left unaddressed how the materiality of production has been transformed, that is, how we produce differently as a result of the molecular transformation of living organisms.

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