New Directions in the Sociology of Global Development: Volume 11


Table of contents

(15 chapters)

This edition of Research in Rural Sociology and Development is dedicated to Frederick H. Buttel, who edited the series from 2002 to 2005. Knowing that he was terminally ill, Fred asked me in the summer of 2003 to co-edit this particular volume. He died in January 2005, unable to see the project through to its completion. Nevertheless, the volume bears the stamp of Fred's clear vision. It grew out of a symposium Fred organized at the XI World Congress for Rural Sociology in Trondheim, July 2004. He named that symposium ‘New Directions in the Sociology of Global Development.’ Chapters in this volume include papers presented at that symposium, complemented by an additional selection of outstanding papers we commissioned. Together, these chapters constitute a fitting memorial to Fred's unparalleled breadth of contribution to the sociology of development.

While some researchers have considered commodity chain analysis to be a tool or method that is “innocent of theory,” or can be combined with any theory, this paper argues that it has a specific set of theoretical investments. It argues that commodity chain analysis emerged in response to criticisms of the determinism, economism, and western bias in earlier development paradigms. Drawing on recent scholarship, it argues that researchers have turned to the study of commodity chains to provide situated and contingent accounts of global political economy that are historically specific, sensitive to culture and meaning, and attentive to subaltern perspectives.

This chapter explores the trans-national and cross-regional interactions and connections that, beginning in the late eighteenth century, brought about the development of dualistic economies within and outside of Europe; and how this circuit was reconfigured after the world wars by means of decolonization, nationalism, “first” and “second” world development, and globalization. What this perspective brings into view is a horizontal rather than vertical division of the world: the synchronic and interdependent development of dynamic focal points of growth throughout the world shaped, both within and outside of Europe, by trans-local interaction and connection, as well as by local struggles and relations of dominance and subordination.

The chapter identifies key components of the new patterns of farming and rural livelihoods emerging in Latin America in the twenty-first century. By the beginning of the millennium, most rural areas of Latin America had become integrated into global agricultural commodity networks that curtail the opportunities for small-scale, family-based farming and result in two predominant types of production, the corporate large-scale enterprise suited to oils seeds and their derivatives, cattle or vegetables for processing and the smaller commercially oriented farm producing market garden products, fruits and wine. Both types of farms often form part of commodity networks organized by domestic intermediaries, large-scale supermarket chains, such as Wal-Mart and Carrefour, and foreign food marketers. In addition to the multiplication of external commercial linkages, high levels of urbanization have increasingly blurred the distinction between the rural and the urban. Off-farm work, including international labor migration, is now an important source of rural livelihoods. This context means that research needs to address the multiple interfaces that now connect the different types of rural inhabitants with a wide range of external actors.

This paper documents and accounts for the globalization of the so-called national bourgeoisie in the late twentieth century. A substantial and growing body of sociological literature holds that firms and investors from the developing world have been denationalized, neutered, or destroyed by their efforts to penetrate international markets – and that cross-national economic competition is therefore giving way to transnational class conflict over time. By way of contrast, I hold that not only peripheral capitalists but their elected and appointed representatives are compelled to undertake large-scale, fixed investments, exploit their competitive advantages, and challenge foreign firms – and their respective representatives – on their own soil by the very logic of capitalist competition, and that the aforementioned challenges will occur on political as well as economic terrain.

The restructuring of food systems over recent decades has rightly received social scientific analysis. This paper argues that the public health implications of the cultural and production changes have received less attention. Yet, new health-oriented analyses offer a rich understanding of how societies have changed – in what they eat, why and how food is produced, whose health is affected and by what diseases. Health should be at the heart of social scientific thinking about food and farming. The case for a more integrated approach to food and farming, linking health, environment and society is strong.

Despite continuing disagreement about the meaning of ‘sustainable development’, the so-called triple-bottom-line trajectory – which would see economic advancement being achieved alongside social equity and environmental security – is viewed as one of the promises for future progress regionally, nationally and globally. At the regional level we are witnessing various experiments in governance that cut across, challenge and undermine existing decision-making structures. They are being developed and implemented because of the perceived failure of older forms of governance to deliver sustainable development. This chapter will examine the ‘regional experiment’ that is occurring within the advanced societies, identifying the general features of the schemes, policies and programmes that are being promoted to bring about sustainable development. From a policy perspective, it will seek to identify the elements, and forms, of regional governance that appear to provide the best options for sustainable development.

Can market-based regulation based on consumer pressure and ‘independent monitoring’ serve as the basis for transnational corporation regulation? In an increasingly integrated global economy, many scholars and policy makers fear that mobile capital may force a ‘race to the bottom’; can independent non-governmental organizations and ethical consumers provide a counterweight to cost-cutting pressures? This paper compares three of the best known examples of transnational monitoring – the Sullivan Principles in South Africa, the Rugmark social labeling program in India, and the Commission for the Verification of Codes of Conduct's monitoring experiences in the apparel industry of Guatemala – to consider some common features of transnational monitoring.

One of the defining characteristics of industrial capitalism is the rapid expansion of social production. This expansion requires increased use of matter and energy. Society cannot create either matter or energy, so industrial expansion in one place means that matter and energy must be extracted and transported from other places. Because social production expands through both new technologies and new products, industrial growth requires not only greater amounts, but also an increasing variety of material and energetic forms. Because these different forms of matter and energy are found in limited quantities in different parts of the world, expansion, technological innovations, and product differentiation in productive economies entail the frequent relocation of extractive economies, either because they have depleted the natural resources on which they depend or because new technologies have shifted the market. Regions which depend on exporting extracted natural resources are therefore likely to suffer from severe fluctuations in income. Capital sunk in extractive infrastructure may devalue radically. These problems limit their capacity for sustained development. Nonetheless, resource extraction figures prominently in the economic plans of many lessdeveloped nations. A growing literature addresses the economic or the political pitfalls that beset extractive economies. This essay explores their ecological roots.

This paper suggests that a corporate-environmental food regime is emerging as part of a larger restructuring of capitalism. Like past food regimes, it reflects specific social and political compromises, which I interpret through the social movement concept of interpretive frames. The diasporic-colonial food regime of 1870–1914 grew up in response to working class movements in Europe, and created a historically unprecedent class of commercial family farmers. When world markets collapsed, those farmers entered into new alliances, including one that led to the mercantile-industrial food regime of 1947–1973. Lineaments of a new food regime based on quality audited supply chains seems to be emerging in the space opened by impasse in international negotiations over food standards. Led by food retailers, agrofood corporations are selectively appropriating demands of environmental, food safety, animal welfare, fair trade, and other social movements that arose in the interstices of the second food regime. If it consolidates, the new food regime promises to shift the historical balance between public and private regulation, and to widen the gap between privileged and poor consumers as it deepens commodification and marginalizes existing peasants. Social movements are already regrouping and consolidation of the regime remains uncertain.

The corporate food regime is presented here as a vector of the project of global development. As such, it expresses not only the social and ecological contradictions of capitalism, but also the world-historical conjuncture in which the deployment of price and credit relations are key mechanisms of ‘accumulation through dispossession.’ The global displacement of peasant cultures of provision by dumping, the supermarket revolution, and conversion of land for agro-exports, incubate ‘food sovereignty’ movements expressing alternative relationships to the land, farming and food.

This chapter explores Lula's internationalist strategy toward the politics of globalization, which involves building alliances within the Common Market of the South (Mercosur) and between Mercosur and the European Union. It compares Lula's internationalism with the earlier nationalist Brazilian informatics policy as shifting strategies of sovereignty, highlighting their differences as interventions in the politics of globalization. In the process, it explores the changing conditions of globalization and assesses the potential of Lula's strategy as an alternative to the dominant neoliberal globalization form.

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Research in Rural Sociology and Development
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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