What Role for Labour in Global Production Networks and the Circular Economy? — ASN Events

What Role for Labour in Global Production Networks and the Circular Economy? (16709)

Susan McGrath-Champ 1 , Graham Pickren , Al Rainnie , Andrew Herod
  1. University of Sydney, Darlington, NSW, Australia

          A succession of frameworks (Global Commodity Chains, Global Value Chains and Global Production Networks – GPNs) has been deployed to trace and understand connections linking disparate places across the face of the globe involved in producing the world’s consumer and industrial goods. Recently, a literature has emerged concerning the ‘other’ life of such commodities, that is, waste – waste ships, waste autos, e-waste, other waste. Both the production chain/networks and ‘waste’ literatures have inherent yet variously articulated geographies scaling all levels of analysis and worldly practice. And alongside these are emerging discussions of new arrangements for ‘producing’ and of managing productions’ excrement, referred to variously as the ‘circular economy’, or ‘stable state’ economy. A commonality across all these is that the crucial role of labour is under-developed.
          Contributing to these debates, this paper presents the concept of ‘Global Destruction Networks’ (GDNs). These networks of product disassembly, transformation, reuse (or discard), we propose are not solely an ‘afterwards’ to Global Production Networks. Tracing the solidification or ‘congealing’ of labour value, its subsequent ‘dissolution’ as well as periodic augmentation, some (and it would seem, not yet enough) of the world’s waste becomes interwoven with, and jointly propels, Global Production Networks. Combining notions of linearity with circularity, we argue that the production of goods and their constituent materials can be more successfully grasped when the focus in on the movement of labour value embedded in these. Supported by empirical illustration, the paper explores the ‘placedness’ of labour and the labour process and the role of ‘wasted’ labour in global production networks.