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Theorising capitalist diversity : the uneven and combined development of labour forms

Sage Publications Ltd.
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  • Political Science


This article seeks to elaborate a framework for the study of diversity in forms of labour using Trotsky’s theory of uneven and combined development (UCD). It argues that labour markets are constituted by systemic processes of capital accumulation and uneven development in the global economy, but that these processes have highly differentiated outcomes in terms of the forms of labour that have historically emerged within and across national boundaries. Exploring some of the neglected elements of different forms of labour, including non-waged labour, the article demonstrates how we might conceptualise the way in which combinations of labour forms exist within any given space of the world economy. Using the examples of both internal and transnational migration, it argues that charting the social and spatial relations of production, and the labouring experiences and forms of worker politics associated with them, is an effective way of understanding the constitution and restructuring of different forms of labour.

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