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Global Commodity Chains and the Marxian Law of Value

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This paper develops a Marxian critique of the “global commodity chain” (GCC) paradigm. It is argued that this approach fails to provide an actual explanation of the phenomenon it sets about to investigate. Instead, it offers a typological description of the immediate manifestations of the determinations at stake. As a consequence, the GCC approach one-sidedly conceptualises the relations among individual capitals within a commodity chain as the simple result of relations of power (or co-operation), that is, of direct social relations. By contrast, this paper argues that the latter are concrete mediations of the inner laws regulating the indirect social relations among individual capitals: the process of global competition through which the formation of the general rate of profit asserts itself. On this basis, it develops an alternative account of the social determinations underlying the genesis, structure and evolving configuration of GCCs as an expression of the unfolding of the Marxian “law of value”.

Keywords: Marx; capitalist competition; global commodity chains; law of value

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Politics, School of Social Sciences, University of Manchester, UK;, Email:

Publication date: 2010-03-01

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