Edited by Stefano Ponte, Gary Gereffi and Gale Raj-Reichert
Chapter 12: Bringing the environment into GVC analysis: antecedents and advances
The ‘environment’ is central to all economic activity, everywhere, always. However, GVC scholars have paid only minimal attention to the environment and its formative role in structuring GVCs and interfirm relations, as well as their socio-ecological manifestations. The outcome, the authors suggest, is an important blind spot in GVC scholars’ understanding of how interfirm power relations can actually play out. To help turn scholars’ focus to the analytical opportunities that attention to the environment can offer, the authors identify and review small, but growing, groups of literature that bridge GVCs and the environment around the following thematic areas: (1) materiality; (2) environmental upgrading; (3) waste and post-consumption; and (4) culture and ecology in networks of global production. They note that these four areas are rarely in conversation with each other, though an emerging body of work is building from the advances of each to explore empirically and theorize the constitutive role of the environment in GVCs. They review these integrative efforts in the final section of the chapter, highlighting how they enhance our understandings of GVCs and ‘the environment’ as they intersect with distributive dynamics and unequal power relations that have long been central sites of query in GVC scholarship.
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