Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Political Science

Major Professor

Michael M. Amen, Ph.D.


Social structures of accumulation, Social relations of production, Deunionization, Political economy, Post-Fordism


In this thesis, I argue that the globalization of production has weakened the power and efficacy of labor unions in the United States. I describe the globalization of production as a set of transformations in both the institutional structure of the economy and in the organization of production, and discuss how these transformations have impacted workers and unions in the American economy. The theoretical framework I employ is the social structure of accumulation approach, which emphasizes the importance of the institutional structures of capitalist economies and how their interaction with forms of production organization and systems of labor control helps to determine levels of aggregate economic growth, the profit rates of individual firms, and the distribution of power, resources, and wealth among economic agents. I argue that the globalization of production involves the transition from the social structure of accumulation of segmentation to the globalized production

social structure of accumulation, and the displacement of Fordist mass production by lean production as the dominant paradigm of production organization.Lean production and the globalized production social structure of accumulation involve a transformation in the relationship between firms, workers, and the state. The changing circumstances and economic conditions which these transformations have produced, and the failure of labor unions to understand, appreciate, and effectively respond to them, have been responsible for the rapid and sustained decline in the membership, power, and efficacy of organized labor in the United States. Through case studies on the automobile and clothing industries, I show how the way in which these transformations have materialized in the specific contexts of two industries with different competitive conditions, organizational structures, and levels of capital-intensity have produced very disparate and dissimilar outcomes for the workers in these indust