Mobilized Workers vs. Morphing Capital: Challenging Global Supply Chains in Vietnam

Mobilized Workers vs. Morphing Capital: Challenging Global Supply Chains in Vietnam

Monday, November 17, 2008
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
Philippines Conference Room

Capital in its many facets is variable.  Like quicksilver, it can divide, reunite, and metamorphose seamlessly across a spectrum of ownerships by foreigners, the state, and domestic private

What does variable capital mean in and for Vietnam?  Who are the different investors?  How do they respond to state efforts to attract investments from overseas Vietnamese?  How do global supply chains—corporate buyers, contract factories, and subcontractors—shape the changing nature and impacts of capital in Vietnam?  How does a self-described socialist state use policies on investment, employment, and the privatization of state-owned factories to control the relations between workers and owners?  What roles in this mix are played by journalists who can ignore neither the party line nor the workers who protest in spite of it?  

In addition to addressing these questions, Prof. Tran will argue that workers in Vietnam are not resigned to being squeezed between morphing capital and state control.  They defend their interests flexibly in diverse forms of protest, overt and covert, including appeals to the state’s own socialist vision.  Fresh from extensive fieldwork in labor-intensive industries such as textiles, garments, and footwear, Prof. Tran will show how Vietnamese workers use origin, class, gender, and ethnicity to mobilize collective action against morphing capital in a one-party state.

Angie Ngoc Tran is a professor of political economy at California State University, Monterey Bay.  Her latest publications include articles in the Labor Studies Journal (2007) on labor media and labor-management-state relations in Vietnam.  Her PhD is from the University of Southern California (1996).