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 MPIfG Podcasts



Tim Bartley
Beyond Empty Spaces: Structure and Substance in the Implementation of Global Norms
Scholar in Residence Lectures Series 2017
"Rules and Rights in the Global Economy"

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Tim Bartley's lectures will focus on global rule-making projects and their implications for industries, workers, environments, and communities. Neoliberal globalization has often appeared unruly, with rapidly changing flows of money, products, and people producing new challenges for governments, citizens, and companies. Yet the rise of global production architectures has also been accompanied by rule-making projects of various sorts, including those concerned with fairness, sustainability, and justice for marginalized residents. More than empty symbolism but less than a transformation of capitalism, these rules are shaping the practices of companies, NGOs, and governments in subtle and contradictory ways. The lectures will examine the consequences of rules for land and labor and develop a new theory of transnational governance.
Lecture 1
Drawing on research on fair labor and sustainable forestry standards in Indonesia and China, this presentation will reveal the "on-the-ground" consequences of global norms and move toward a new theory of transnational governance. Norms about human rights, environmentalism, labor rights, and transparency have spread widely – as shown in research on transnational advocacy networks and world society – spawning a number of specific rule-making projects. Yet theories that can explain whether and how these rules are implemented remain rare. Some theories remain distant or formalistic, and others crudely portray global norms as filling essentially "empty spaces" in poor and middle-income countries. In contrast, the substantive theory of transnational governance developed here makes claims about the modal consequences of transnational rules, their intersections with existing forms of domestic governance, and some ways in which the content of rules matters.
Important publications
  • Bartley, T.: Institutional Emergence in an Era of Globalization: The Rise of Transnational Private Regulation of Labor and Environmental Conditions. In: American Journal of Sociology 113(2), 297–351 (2007).

  • Bartley, T.: Transnational Governance and the Re-Centered State: Sustainability or Legality? In: Regulation and Governance 8(1), 93-109 (2014).

  • Bartley, T.: Shaming the Corporation: The Social Production of Targets and the Anti-Sweatshop Movement (with C. Child). In: American Sociological Review 79(4), 653-79 (2014).

  • Bartley, T.: Beyond Decoupling: Unions and the Leveraging of Corporate Social Responsibility in Indonesia (with N. Egels-Zandén). In: Socio-Economic Review 14(2), 231-55 (2016).

  • Bartley, T.: Looking Behind the Label: Global Industries and the Conscientious Consumer (with S. Koos, H. Samel, G. Setrini, N. Summers). Bloomington: Indiana University Press 2015.

    Tim Bartley is the MPIfG Scholar in Residence for the 2017 summer term. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at Ohio State University. His research focuses on transnational governance, private forms of regulation, social movements, and corporate responsibility and sustainability. He is an economic and political sociologist who uses a variety of methodological approaches in his research, from quantitative analyses of firm- and individual-level data to in-depth interviews and case studies. He is a former editor of the journal Regulation & Governance, has previously taught at Indiana University, and has been a visiting scholar at Princeton, MIT, and Sun Yat-sen University.
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