Bringing fresh insights to the contemporary globalization debate, this text reveals the social and political contests that give ‘global’ its meaning, by examining the contested nature of globalization as it is expressed in the restructuring of work. The book rejects conventional explanations of globalization as a process that automatically leads to transformations in working lives, or as a project that is strategically designed to bring about lean and flexible forms of production, and advances an understanding of the social practices that constitute global change. Through case studies that span from the labour flexibility debates in Britain and Germany to the strategies and tactics of corporations and workers, it examines how globalization is interpreted and experienced in everyday life and argues that contestation has become a central feature of the practices that enable or confound global restructuring.
are explored. The analysis focuses on five common aspects that reveal a central
dominant representation of social change: the identification of exogenous
transformative forces, disciplinary imperatives, historical convergence, social
prescription and the death of conflict. I argue that it is these assumptions
about social change that underpin and perpetuate the contemporary discourse
of imperative labourflexibility. Flexibility itself has an amorphous quality that
allows it to be applied ‘flexibly’ to describe the many facets of the contemporary restructuring
Refiguring childhood stages a series of encounters with biosocial power, which is a specific zone of intensity within the more encompassing arena of biopower and biopolitics. Assembled at the intersection of thought and practice, biosocial power attempts to bring envisioned futures into the present, taking hold of life in the form of childhood, thereby bridging being and becoming while also shaping the power relations that encapsulate the social and cultural world(s) of adults and children. Taking up a critical perspective which is attentive to the contingency of childhoods – the ways in which particular childhoods are constituted and configured – the method used in the book is a transversal genealogy that moves between past and present while also crossing a series of discourses and practices framed by children’s rights (the right to play), citizenship, health, disadvantage and entrepreneurship education. The overarching analysis converges on contemporary neoliberal enterprise culture, which is approached as a conjuncture that helps to explain, and also to trouble, the growing emphasis on the agency and rights of children. It is against the backdrop of this problematic that the book makes its case for refiguring childhood. Focusing on the how, where and when of biosocial power, Refiguring childhood will appeal to researchers and students interested in examining the relationship between power and childhood through the lens of social and political theory, sociology, cultural studies, history and geography.
dynamics of transformation in this way, it becomes possible to make
prescribed neo-liberal interventions. When represented as an irrevocable and
essential process, that can nonetheless be managed, globalisation becomes a
powerful meaning-generating concept that accounts for ‘what is happening’ at
the same time as it draws the parameters of ‘what should be done about it’.
This book has explored one such representation of globalisation ‘as process’ – the widespread propagation of a discourse of labourflexibility, on which
deregulatory interventions are founded
in labour law, and to challenge the stipulation that collective agreements would expire if one of the signatories refused to renew.
The proposed new labour law was primarily designed to address the alleged Portuguese ‘rigidity of employment protection’ as the main cause of rising unemployment (Centeno 2006 ). 9 Several legal changes with the goal of achieving ‘greater labourflexibility’ had been introduced in Portugal since the 1990s. Some of these made it easier for employers to impose redundancies (no. 64-A/89) and work-time flexibility (no. 103
macroeconomic environment through
restrictive fiscal policy, stable exchange rates and so on.3
On this basis, economists cite the Irish case to support the orthodoxy
of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the OECD and other international bodies that favour macroeconomic stability over all other social
and economic policy variables. The new orthodoxy as the EU enters
into a phase of enlargement is to convince the accession countries that
they will converge if they maximise the openness of their trade, get the
macroeconomics right and encourage labourflexibility. Mainstream
Chapter 1 explores the conceptions of globalisation and restructuring on
which the discourse of labourflexibility is based. Of course, entire books have
been devoted to the subject matter of globalisation alone. However, this
chapter explores the particular representation of globalisation as an indomitable process that demands specific restructuring responses. The analysis is
focused on five defining aspects of the process-centred view of globalisation:
exogenous transformative forces, disciplinary imperatives, historical convergence, social prescription
upon, and the contemporary practices that interpret and give meaning to,
enable or confound its existence.
Producing flexibility in ‘global Britain’
In the preceding chapters I have argued that the construction of a discourse of
labourflexibility rests upon the production of a particular mode of knowledge
about globalisation and social change. The discourse of restructuring for
labourflexibility in British state-society has depended upon a representation
of globalisation and restructuring which is now widely understood to
transcend individual governments and
Contract) of the Villepin government. The merits of the case need not be reviewed extensively here. The management of the Valls–Hollande tandem was clearly defective. Neither the minister, Myriam El Khomri, nor Prime Minister Valls was able to reassure and satisfy a youth fearful of labourflexibility and desirous of the full-time permanent contracts that their parents enjoyed.
Faced with these setbacks, the opinion surveys published with increasing regularity as the presidential election approached provided little solace for Hollande. The third round of the
, 2000) show that the use of subcontracting, network structures with the purpose of increasing production flexibility leads to increased
labourflexibility across the entire network and a worsening of employment
The transformation of stable jobs
Increased use of outsourcing and continued high reliance on temporary employment contracts have not left intact the conditions faced by workers with permanent contracts of employment. Considering all permanent workers as a
homogeneous collective is a mistake since it loses sight of the substantial differences that