Volume 46 Number 180,
January - March 2015

Roldán, Genoveva (coord.) (2013), The Globalization of Underdevelopment in the World of Labor, Institute of Economic Research-UNAM, Mexico.

In light of the current configuration of social reproduction under capital, an understanding of the increasingly complex universe of labor is an essential academic and social need in our present day. This work by the Unit of Research on the Political Economy of Development, coordinated by Dr. Genoveva Roldán Dávila, analyzes the profound and diverse implications of transformations in the reorganization of labor for the labor world, transformations derived from neoliberal policies of flexibilization and the globalization of widespread capital reproduction.

Various researchers contributed to the book The Globalization of Underdevelopment in the World of Labor, with a range of methodologies and focuses of study, together making up a diverse and broad-ranging approach to the mechanisms that the globalization process has created to subordinate and appropriate labor. The authors offer a general approach to better understanding the economic and political implications of these transformations for social reproduction and specifically warn of what is to come as these trends develop in Latin America.

The book opposes the process by which the ideological imposition of capital has managed, through various mechanisms, to reduce the criteria of thought, methodology and reason to totalitarian beliefs as a function of the specific needs and justifications of the historical reality of capital and neoliberal policies.

This text provides a critical perspective that illuminates the differences and diversity of this reality, the various degrees of technical, economic, political, geographic and labor development and the contradictions inherent to their social relations of production, circulation and consumption.

This book consists of eight chapters that address various fields and analyze and describe how the labor world and relations of capital reproduction have been transformed over the past 30 years, with an Introduction written by the renowned labor expert Ricardo Antunes. Each chapter discusses one aspect of these multiple transformations, deterioration and neoliberal employment flexibility, starting with the common denominator of the profound crisis in social reproduction and the need to understand this complex historical reality from a critical approach.

The first chapter, “Forms of Existence of Labor and Social Security in Latin America: Opposing Paths," by Juan Arancibia, analyzes the real capacity of Latin American economies to provide effective protection to their workers at the close of their active working lives. The author pays special mind to understanding the relationship between the new forms of the workforce by identifying trends, such as increasingly precarious conditions, greater informality and job instability, as well as the viability or sustainability of social security in light of the reforms that have privatized the pension systems and individual retirement savings.

In, “The Maquiladora Industry, Industrial Restructuring and Labor," Josefina Morales describes the unequal process of capital structuring and transnational industry, the constitution of industrial-maquiladora production, the various ways in which the maquiladora model has been globalized and changes to the labor process as a result of the internationalization of production, in light of the conformation of a new international division of labor resulting from transformations in the global economy generated by the new neoliberal model of accumulation.

Genoveva Roldán Dávila, in “The Precarious Employment of International Migrant Laborers in Globalization,” offers an analysis of labor migration, its nature and origin, with respect to the development of capital production and how it has evolved, especially during the crises. The text questions the so-called economic rationality and free choice to migrate, while also analyzing the mechanisms by which employment has become precarious in international migration, the criminalization of migration and the contradictions of employment in destination countries, especially the United States.

The chapters by Enrique Casáis Padilla, in "Labor Markets, Neoliberalism and Globalization: The Cases of the United States, Germany and Spain,” María Teresa Rodríguez in “Work and Employment in China: The Domestic Context and Regional Productive Integration,” and Patricia Olave in "Precarious and Flexible Employment in Chile," describe research on some of the social and economic effects that these neoliberal reforms have caused in the labor world. Their works help readers gain historical and empirical understanding of some of the experiences and effects of neoliberalism on the global economy over the past 30 years, including labor flexibilization, trade liberalization, financial deregulation, industrial dislocation, the reorientation of production and wealth consumption and unprecedented productive and economic growth.

In “Financialization, Jobs, Wages and Household Debt in Mexico,” Alejandro López Bolaños reflects on the effects of the financial crisis on the real economy. Beginning with a review of the concept of financialization and its implications, the author reveals how the financial sector appropriates the benefits of labor and, starting with Mexico’s neoliberal reforms, how this sector began to define the behavior and deterioration of national productive activity and transform labor relations through reforms and changes to the labor world.

Finally, in “The Origin of the National Occupation and Employment Survey and Strategic Indicators,” Cruz Álvarez Padilla overviews how the methodologies of occupation and employment surveys in Mexico have changed over the past 30 years. Specifically, the author examines data gathering tools (i.e. questionnaires, classifiers and manuals), changes made to coverage and time to collect information, as well as the processes needed to adapt the parameters of national statistics to international methodological standards, to standardize global information and adjust demographic and macroeconomic indicators for an overall evaluation of global labor.

Together, this research makes progress in the historical understanding of globalization and the consequences of implementing neoliberal policies. It demonstrates how this historical process has – in sharp contrast to the official account of democracy, rising labor productivity, social equality, economic growth, industrial development, etc. – in fact led to growing social inequality, wealth and capital concentration, intensification of contradictions, the reduction of social wages, deterioration of social conditions of labor, labor flexibilization, the lack of protection for workers, the increase in precarious employment, the criminalization of migration, unequal productive relocation, the deregulation of financial markets, market speculation and volatility, conceptual and material transformations in the social classifications of employment, underemployment, unemployment, multi-employment, informal employment and other phenomena, which, this work analyzes as expressions of the reorganization intrinsic to the transformation of the labor world in the context of globalization.

Armando Negrete
Institute of Economic Research – unam

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PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 49, Number 194 July-September 2018 is a quarterly publication by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México, D.F. by Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas, Circuito Mario de la Cueva, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán,
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