October 2017, Polity
Labor is the source of all wealth. Without workers, the world's natural resources cannot be transformed into finished goods and services cannot be delivered. Labor, though, is a uniquely important resource for the very simple reason that working people have sentience. Whilst a business might seek to employ workers in much the same way as it does any other resource, unlike these other resources labor is capable of altering its own conditions of existence and so of challenging how it is used by others.
In this book, Andrew Herod offers an original and wide-ranging analysis of labor as a multi-faceted and truly global resource. Opening with a rich overview of the migration streams and demographic trends that have shaped the planetary distribution of labor, he goes on to explore how globalization and the growth of precarious work are impacting working people's lives. A wide range of examples is examined to illustrate the ongoing struggles faced by workers worldwide – from forced labor and child labor in West Africa's cocoa and southeast Asia's shrimping industries to the labor practices affecting so-called 'knowledge workers'. Herod concludes by surveying some of the ways in which working people are taking action to improve their lives, including forming trade unions and other labor organizations, occupying factories in places like Argentina and Greece, and establishing anti-sweatshop campaigns.
This book is a must read for anyone interested in understanding the state of labor in today's global economy.
- Table of Contents
- List of Figures
- List of Tables
- Chapter 1 – A Resource Unlike Any Other
- Labor as Object
- Labor as Subject
- Chapter 2 – Labor in Global Context
- Moving On
- Rural to urban migration
- Intra-continental migration
- Inter-continental migration
- Growing in Place
- Chapter 3 – Globalization and Labor
- FDI’s Implications for Labor
- GPNs and Labor as Object and Subject
- Waste, Global Destruction Networks, and Labor
- Chapter 4 – Neoliberalism and Working Precariously
- Neoliberalism and Precarious Work
- Forms of Precarity and Their Present Dynamics
- Chapter 5 – From Drudge Work to Emancipated Workers?
- Laboring in the Old Economy
- On the Swing to the Cancer in the Bush Iron Ore Mining in Western Australia
- Sweet Work? – Cocoa Plantation Workers in West Africa
- Fishy Business – Forced Labor in the Seafood Industry
- Chapter 6 – Meet the New Economy – Same as the Old Economy?
- Laboring in the New Economy
- Chips off the Old (Economy) Block?
- Call Centers – Dark Satanic Mills of the New Economy?
- Ghost Workers of the New Economy
- Chapter 7 – Workers Fight Back
- Workers Coming Together
- Organizing in the Age of Precarity
- Chapter 8 – Concluding Thoughts
"Superbly explicated and assisted by well-chosen case studies, Andrew Herod's analysis of the uniqueness of labor as a resource is both captivating and convincing. Wonderful work!"
Jon Agnone, University of Washington
"In this bold and pithy text Herod reminds us that labor is a vital resource with a mind of its own. This book is an excellent introduction to the fast-changing world of work and why it matters so much."
Jane Wills, Queen Mary, University of London