chapter  7
38 Pages

Labour

We turn in this chapter to the first corner of the triangular structure of capitalist relations and the first dimension of the social processes of regionalisation in the Southern Cone-namely, labour. While labour-related issues lie at the heart of debates about models of capitalism, their treatment in IPE remains rather problematic, for three principal reasons. The first, and simplest, is that labour has suffered from a generalised neglect in IPE-the ‘invisibility’ of workers, indeed, has been described as a ‘serious blind spot’, which carries both theoretical and empirical implications (O’Brien 2000a:89). Second, within the scarce literature, labour is commonly represented as an interest (singular) affected by globalisation and neoliberal restructuring. This treatment of labour as an homogenous, reactive agent-and consequently as a ‘second-order’ social force in a hierarchy dominated by capital and states-underplays both its centrality in the political economy of capitalism and the reorganisation of social relationships which underpins restructuring processes. Third, labour is conceptualised predominantly as a ‘national’ social category or actor. This nationalist bias is particularly stark, not surprisingly, in the institutionalist strains of the models of capitalism debate but is also a strong leitmotif in studies of globalisation, in which a discounting of path dependency in favour of a ‘convergence’ argument also frequently leaves the nationalist bias undisturbed. That is, convergence is seen to arise from change at the national level, as economies are restructured and state-capital-labour relations redrawn in a manner conducive to the onward march of neoliberal globalisation.