The purpose of this blog is to provide analytical commentary on formal and informal labour organisations and their attempts to resist ever more brutal forms of exploitation in today’s neo-liberal, global capitalism.

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Labour Conflicts in the Global South

Against the background of the global economic crisis since 2007/2008 and increasing inequality across the world, we have experienced widespread, large-scale industrial action throughout the Global South, including in countries such as China, Brazil, India and South Africa, which had been hailed as the new growth engines of the global political economy as part of the so-called BRICS. In this blog post, I will introduce a new special issue of the journal Globalizations, dedicated to unravelling the underlying dynamics of these moments of contestation.

Thursday, 21 January 2021

An education system gone astray

On 5 January, the government cancelled all GCSE and A-level exams in England for the summer 2021, following similar decisions by the devolved governments of Wales and Scotland. The announcement was greeted with an outcry by many pupils and their parents. The cancellations were called a ‘big disappointment’ by some, apparently potentially preventing students to reach their full potential and endangering their future career prospects (BBC, 5 January 2021). Why is it that many pupils and their parents are so unhappy about the cancellation of an enormously intensive set of exams? 

 


Tuesday, 22 December 2020

Beyond “Koyaanisqatsi”: Reimagining Civilization

There is an emerging view in the present crisis, illustrated in recently burgeoning commentary across the globe, expressing a realization that our present form of world order and civilization has brought humanity and “nature” into a great crisis, and that we must act radically to transform the foundations. In this guest post, Barry Gills argues that the combination, or “triple crisis,” of the three Cs – Climate, Capitalism, and COVID-19 – has brought forward a momentum to address the fundamental causes of this crisis.

 

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Re-arranging the deckchairs of capitalist control: The departure of Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain.

By Sunday, 15 November 2020 it was clear, Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain, two of Prime Minister Johnson’s key advisers were to leave the government (The Guardian, 15 November 2020). Commentators were quick to paint the Prime Minister as someone who was asserting his authority and started speculating about potential policy changes. Looking at the charade from outside the Westminster bubble, however, it becomes clear that this has little to do with policy, and is more about trying to steady a ship, which has gone completely out of control.


Wednesday, 4 November 2020

A crisis of their own making: Covid-19 and the pressure on Higher Education in the UK

Since the Conservatives returned to power in 2010, the ‘free market’ has also been increasingly introduced into Higher Education (HE) in the UK. A hike in tuition fees to £9000 per year as the dominant way of financing the sector plus the removal of the CAP, allowing universities to recruit as many students as they want, has fundamentally transformed HE. In this blog post, I will argue that it has also prepared the grounds for the current crisis with many British universities facing large shortfalls in income and potentially bankruptcy (The Guardian, 6 July 2020). 

Sunday, 20 September 2020

Nature Strikes Back? COVID-19 and the limits to capitalist outward expansion.

In 2007/2008, the Global Financial Crisis, caused by financial market speculation related to home ownership and mortgages, spilled over into a global economic recession. The current coronavirus crisis too will result in a perhaps even more dramatic global economic crisis. Unlike in 2007/2008, however, many argue that this time it is not human error, which caused the crisis. Rather, we are dealing with a natural crisis unrelated to our capitalist economy. In this post, I will critically engage with this claim. 


Sunday, 23 August 2020

Ecofeminism as Politics – a conversation with Ariel Salleh

In 2017, Ariel Salleh published the second edition of her book Ecofeminism as Politics: Nature, Marx and the Postmodern (Zed Books, 2017). In her outstanding engagement with multiple oppressions within the capitalist global economy, she convincingly argues that patriarchal oppression is inextricably internally related to the destruction of nature in capitalism’s relentless search for accumulating ever higher levels of surplus value. - The conversation that follows is an overview of the book, as well as offering some critical reflections.

Saturday, 22 August 2020

Social Care under pressure: the problem of the for-profit sector

How we take care of seniors at a time in their life when they are most vulnerable and need the greatest support is an important public policy challenge. It also is a clear statement about who we are as a society. (McGregor and Ronald 2016)

Covid-19 and the related high number of deaths in care homes has revealed the shortcomings in the UK care home sector. While private companies reap large profits, the quality of care is often low and staff is poorly trained and lowly paid. I will argue that only the re-municipalisation of care homes can ultimately address the problems. 

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Logistics, power resources and the strike of Brazilian truckers in 2018


Work in logistics and transport has moved to the centre of attention of labour studies in the past few years. One of the central assumptions of this research is that workers in this sector command the power to block so called choke points, crucial nodes where commodities have to pass, like ports and warehouses, providing these workers with extraordinary power. In the study Logistik, Machtressourcen und politische Ökonomie des Rohstoffexports about the 11 day long strike of truck drivers and petroleum platform workers that occured in Brazil in 2008, Jörg Nowak contends the assumption that the power to block choke points is sufficient for effective exercise of power of workers. In this guest post, Jörg provides a summary of the main argument in English.

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

An emerging global working class? Critical reflections on Ronaldo Munck’s Rethinking Global Labour.

In Rethinking Global Labour (Agenda Publishing, 2018), Ronaldo Munck has produced an important contribution to ongoing analyses of the potential role of global labour in shaping the global political economy and resisting capitalist exploitation. In this review, while appreciating Munck’s empirical insights, I will nonetheless be rather critical of the underlying conceptual assumptions, which ultimately limit the impact of his findings.