Changing conditions for political practice: FDI discourse and political spaces for labor in Bolivia
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Various authors have pointed out that the complex processes of globalization are bringing about general shifts in political practices. In particular, these processes are seen to have weakened traditional practices relating to class and redistribution, and strengthened practices relating to identity and recognition. Organized labor seems disempowered by political and economic restructuring, while new social movements have gained influence by taking advantage of emerging spaces for networking and mobility. Yet the more precise mechanisms by which globalization encourages general shifts in political practices are less clear. In this thesis I explore how the complex processes of globalization change conditions for political practice. In other words, it is held that globalization should not primarily be understood as empowering particular actors, such as multinational corporations, but as more fundamental restructurings of discourses and relationships in time and space that enable some practices and constrain others. Taking foreign direct investment (FDI) and the discourses around it as my point of departure, I focus on a particular process at the center of the restructuring brought about by globalization. FDI inflows and liberal FDI policy discourses have changed relations between private and public spheres, and between capital, labor and the state. I am particularly concerned with the knowledge aspect of FDI, or FDI discourse, how this creates conditions for political practice, and ways in which the discourse is contested. The six papers of this thesis analyze from different angles how globalization, in particular FDI discourse, shapes spaces for political practice; how different political actors (unions, NGOs and social movements) make use of these spaces; and how globalization, in particular FDI discourse, creates challenges for the workplace-based politics of the labor movement. Methodologically, the thesis relies on interviews, document analysis and secondary sources. The first paper is a theoretical discussion of the socio-spatial reorganization associated with globalization and what this means for collective political subjectivity. The second paper shows the new potential for rescaling and networking with reference to a case in Tambogrande, Peru. The next four papers constitute the core of the empirical work for this thesis, and focus on the policy discourse of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and civil society politics, particularly organized labor, in Bolivia. FDI policy implemented through the structural adjustment programs of the IMF (mid-1980s to 2006) has been instrumental in shifting political spaces for organized labor. It has weakened collective identity formation and negotiation strategies involved in workplace politics, thereby undermining the influence of labor in gas nationalization. But restructuring has also opened spaces for other types of claims and articulations, which has enabled organized labor to renew its position in civil society politics and take part in contesting economic liberalization, neoliberalism and FDI. Nevertheless, there are few spaces, locally, nationally or internationally, for organized labor to strengthen its influence in workplace politics. Together, the papers illustrate new political spaces for social movements and NGOs, a narrowing of the spaces for organized labor, and the complex interrelations between socio-spatial restructuring and political practices. In returning to the question of a general shift in political practices in the discussion, it is argued that the dominant mechanisms behind this shift are that: (1) relations of production become less central to political articulation; (2) spaces are opened for articulation and rescaling of claims that resonate with hegemonic liberal discourses; and that (3) the new spaces for politics of scale are asymmetric.
Paper 1: Contemporary Politics 13(1), Haarstad, H., Collective political subjectivity and the problem of scale, pp. 57-74. Copyright 2007 Taylor & Francis. Full text not available in BORA due to publisher restrictions. The published version is available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13569770701246237Paper 2: Political Geography 26(3), 2007, Haarstad, H.; Fløysand, A., Globalization and the power of rescaled narratives: A case of opposition to mining in Tambogrande, Peru, pp. 289-308. Copyright 2006 Elsevier Ltd. Full text not available in BORA due to publisher restrictions. The published version is available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.polgeo.2006.10.014Paper 3: Geoforum 40(2), Haarstad, H., FDI policy and political spaces for labor: the disarticulation of the Bolivian petroleros, pp. 239-248. Copyright 2008 Elsevier Ltd. Full text not available in BORA due to publisher restrictions. The published version is available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2008.10.003Paper 4: Globalizations 6(2), Haarstad, H., Globalization and the New Spaces for Social Movement Politics: The Marginalization of Labor Unions in Bolivian Gas Nationalization, pp. 169-185. Copyright 2009 Taylor & Francis. Full text not available in BORA due to publisher restrictions. The published version is available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14747730902854141Paper 5: Haarstad, H., 2009, Maneuvering the spaces of globalization: the rearticulation of the Bolivian labor movement. Full text not available in BORA.Paper 6: Haarstad, H.; Andersson, V., 2009, Backlash reconsidered: the interrelations between neoliberalism and popular mobilization in Bolivia. Full text not available in BORA.
PublisherThe University of Bergen