Gendering Social Upgrading in Industrial Clusters and Global Value Chains

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The article sets out to develop an analytical framework that explains the circumstances under which women workers may experience social upgrading/downgrading processes in industrial clusters in the Global South that are tied into global value chains (GVCs). Based on a review of empirical studies on gendered social upgrading in clusters and GVCs, we argue that the geographical proximity of local firms in industrial clusters has particular implications for social upgrading/downgrading of women workers in formal, informal and household contexts. First, clustering may enhance formal labour agency in the short-term and informal labour agency in the long term. Second, clustering may result in local firms attracting a reputation for labor rights abuses being concentrated in particular geographical locations. Third, clustering has the potential to enhance collective action between local firms, NGO, and support institutions aimed at enhancing the social upgrading of women workers in informal economy and household settings. Fourth, such collective action efforts in cluster settings may have important unintended consequences for women workers. Finally, the article introduces the concepts of formal worker social upgrading, informal worker social upgrading, and household social upgrading as a novel way of conceptualizing social upgrading of women workers in cluster settings.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020
EventSASE 32nd Annual Conference 2020 - Virtual: Development Today: Accumulation, Surveillance, Redistribution - Virtual, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Duration: 18 Jul 202021 Jul 2021
Conference number: 32


ConferenceSASE 32nd Annual Conference 2020 - Virtual
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