In order to understand the linkages between labour process analysis and global value chains (GVCs) it is important to investigate the particular factory regimes at the upstream end of GVCs. Social relations of production were integrated into the global economy along different trajectories. This process is based on new dynamics of segmentation and variegated relations between the formal and informal sectors. For example, informality has come to play an important role in factory regimes, although with important differences: we can distinguish industries that developed informal factory forms of production out of craft traditions; formal firms (and MNCs) either recruiting informal labour directly, or through labour-only contractors; and cases in which downsizing in the formal sector pushes workers into the informal sector. Each case results in different lines of segmentation, links into GVCs, and opportunities for resistance. While this suggests that factory regimes need to be tuned more explicitly to the specific dynamics of work, employment and reproduction, we argue that labour process and GVC analyses have developed themes that allow fruitful linkages. We look at issues around the employment contract, living arrangements, and labour mobility, and the role they play for factory regimes and their insertion into GVCs. Arguably, the extension of hegemonic despotism constitutes a simultaneous development to processes of industrial upgrading. Linking labour process and GVC analyses underscores, both, the role of the functional division of labour for labour control as well as how the latter shapes the former.
Putting Labour in Its Place: Labour Process Analysis and Global Value Chains, 2015