Transnational labor regulation, reification and commodification: A critical review

Journal of Labor and Society 21 (4):517-532 (2018)
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Why does scholarship on transnational labor regulation (TLR) consistently fails to search for improvements in working conditions, and instead devotes itself to relentless efforts for identifying administrative processes, semantics, and amalgamations of stakeholders? This article critiques TLR from a pro-worker perspective, through the philosophical work of Georg Lukács, and the concepts of reification and commodification. A set of theoretically grounded criteria is developed and these are applied against selected contemporary cases of TLR. In the totality that is capitalism, reification of social relations of production conceals completely the experiences of workers. In TLR, managerialist and process-oriented scholarship is dominant, verifiable outcomes and positive improvements in conditions of employment are not sought, and worse, meaningless procedures are celebrated as positive achievements.
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