Research

Infra-political dimensions of resistance to international business


Consider this example:

'Hundreds of students across the United States organise boycotts of apparel produced under dubious labour conditions. Through their 'no sweat' campaign they call attention to the labour conditions in factories making popular foot-ware and clothing brands. This forces many large fashion companies to rethink their procurement policies (Ross, 1997).'

International business has been a contested terrain ever since the Europeans set their feet on the American continent, unleashing a long and violent history of colonialism and anti-colonial struggle.

The above example of contemporary actors articulating their discontent about the way increasingly powerful multinational firms affect the lives of people across the world and is part of a far larger set of challenges to multinational firms, articulated by a wide range of groups in different international contexts.

While protests against the WTO, IMF, World Bank and the so called 'Washington Consensus' more generally do not necessarily implicate particular multinational companies directly, they are part of a wider discursive assault on an emerging global order that is seen to be dominated by global business interests.

This paper contributes to critical understandings of how international business is resisted. It develops a Neo-Gramscian approach that emphasises the importance of informal or 'infrapolitical' processes. Current conceptualisations demonstrate how international business is challenged via formal and organised political strategies in the firm, the state and civil society. The infra-political dimension is understated.

This paper develops a theory of 'articulation' that broadens our understandings of how international business is resisted in both formal and informal ways.

The full working paper version of the article is now available for you to read below. Let us know what you think in the comments box.

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more than just friends rebecca mercy