Benjamin Meaker Lecture - Between a Rock and a Hard Place; Labour Standards and Value Chain Governanace in Global Industries

30 May 2018, 5.00 PM - 30 May 2018, 6.30 PM

Wodehouse Lecture Theatre, School of Education, 35 Berkeley Square, BS8 1JA

Institute for Advanced Studies and FSSL Research Groups on International Development, Global Political Economy, Gender and Work. Benjamin Meaker Lecture presented by Jennifer Bair (University of Virginia)

Synopsis: Based on research in Bangladesh and focussing predominantly on the experiences of women workers, this lecture will examine the challenges of ensuring labour standards along global supply chains.  Increasingly, foreign brands and retailers responding to sweatshop scandals and other reputational risks are trying to address labour violations at supplier facilities—from tomato farms to garment factories—but these efforts raise fundamental questions about the pressures of global competition, and the nature of responsibility, in the global economy.  What role should the foreign companies that drive global supply chains play in ensuring standards abroad, as compared with national governments or international institutions like the UN and ILO?  This talk will also discuss several examples of firms in global supply chains where workers and worker organizations are actively involved in improving working conditions and labour standards.


Jennifer Bair is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Virginia and IAS Benjamin Meaker Visiting Professor at Bristol.  She has previously taught at the University of Colorado at Boulder and at Yale University. Professor Bair specializes in the study of trade, working conditions and gender in Latin America and South Asia.  Her books include Frontiers of Commodity Chain Research (Stanford University Press, 2008) and her work has been published in journals such as Social Problems, Development and Change, Economy and Society, Environment and Planning A, International Journal of Comparative Sociology, Signs and World Development. Among her various honours, Professor Bair has received two prestigious awards for her research from the American Sociological Association.  She has delivered keynote lectures to various international institutions including: the International Labour Organisation, the European Parliament and the Collègede France.  She is currently Chair of the American Sociological Association’s Sociology of Development section.

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Followed by a drinks reception.  All welcome

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