Globalization and the Labour Process
In this chapter I discuss how we conceptualize the labour process and changes to it in the era of capitalist globalization. Without wishing to be reductionist, I argue that changes in the way goods and services are produced, including where they are created, is central to the whole theme of globalization. So, just as the analysis of capitalist production commences with a study of the labour processes that define it (Marx 1971), returning to the labour process provides a fruitful way in to the subject matter of contemporary globalization. This chapter is mainly an opportunity for theoretical reflection, although where appropriate I provide empirical examples, drawn from fieldwork conducted both by myself and by other researchers, in order to highlight changes in the labour process and the contributions of such to globalization. To begin with, the labour process can formally be defined as the way things, whether it be goods or services, are produced. Necessarily it entails the use of technologies that are applied to inputs,"such as raw materials in the case of manufacturing, or to other people in the provision of services. Technologies are social creations, and their utilization assumes definite forms of organization. Therefore the labour process refers to the way in which working relationships are organized around the use of technologies to produce designated outcomes. The notion of job design in part captures the concept of the labour process under capitalism, in which relationships of domination and subordination inhere to the actual conduct of work, beginning when someone other than the worker does the designing. Such relationships imply a dialectic of control over the design, selection, and utilization of technologies and in studies of the labour process it is essential to understand how such control is manifested. An examination of the labour process and globalization such as that undertaken here is therefore required in order to consider how control over work processes is changing.
Relations of Global Power: Neoliberal order and disorder