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Production in Everyday Life: Poetics and Prosaics
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Dr Matt Davies
Pijl, K van der
Handbook of the International Political Economy of Production
Handbooks of Research on International Political Economy series
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Production has become an important problem for IPE for example in studies of commodity chains, migration, or flexibilization. These highlight distributions of productive activities coordinated by, and subsumed under, exchange relations and the circulation of commodities, including labour power. As important – strategically as well as theoretically – as insights gained from this kind of research are, such approaches nonetheless treat production as a moment in the economy alongside circulation and distribution, coordinated by markets or the object of technocratic and market-oriented policy. But what happens when production is seen not through the lens of economics but rather from the vantage of everyday life? This chapter will explore three issues that arise from taking an everyday perspective, each with fundamental implications for thinking about the politics of production. First, the everyday is a site that must itself be produced, reasserting the primacy of production. Second, where market economics privileges circulation as a sphere of abstract equivalence and indifference, in everyday life production appears as sphere where difference is made as work transforms social and material conditions. Third, production as situated analytically in the everyday highlights the contingency and artificiality of
relations as modes of governing production: the everyday is a site where the reification of the international as a political “level” is both produced and undermined. The everyday tensions and contradictions between difference and indifference and between the transformations and the reproduction of the social relations of production are provocations to political forms of subjectivity and a political reconfiguration of IPE.
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