Rules without RightsLand, Labor, and Private Authority in the Global Economy

Rules without RightsLand, Labor, and Private Authority in the Global Economy

Tim Bartley

Print publication date: 2018

ISBN: 9780198794332

Publisher: Oxford University Press


Activists have exposed startling forms of labor exploitation and environmental degradation in global industries, leading many large retailers and brands to adopt standards for fairness and sustainability. This book is about the idea that transnational corporations can push these rules through their global supply chains, and in effect, pull factories, forests, and farms out of their local contexts and up to global best practices. For many scholars and practitioners, this kind of private regulation and global standard-setting can provide an alternative to regulation by territorially bound, gridlocked, or incapacitated nation states, potentially improving environments and working conditions around the world and protecting the rights of exploited workers, impoverished farmers, and marginalized communities. But can private, voluntary rules actually create meaningful forms of regulation? Are forests and factories around the world being made into sustainable ecosystems and decent workplaces? Can global norms remake local orders? This book provides striking new answers by comparing the private regulation of land and labor in democratic and authoritarian settings. Case studies of sustainable forestry and fair labor standards in Indonesia and China show not only how transnational standards are implemented “on the ground” but also how they are constrained and reconfigured by domestic governance. Combining rich multi-method analyses, a powerful comparative approach, and a new theory of private regulation, this book reveals the contours and contradictions of transnational governance.