Commodity chain analysis, derived from world-systems theory, is a useful heuristic for organizing thought and shaping research on global political economy. Commodity chain analysis narrows in on individual commodities and analyzes the organizational processes of production, consumption and disposal of these commodities within the world economy. This approach is particularly appropriate for highlighting the roles of materiality and governance structures in shaping globalization. Nevertheless, commodity chain analysis, by positioning itself as oppositional to traditional economics, undertheorizes the price mechanism, misses issues of terms of trade, ignores the key role of state policy in influencing commodity trajectories, and fails to fully accommodate non-physical commodities such as services and knowledge. This review essay begins by tracing the theoretical origins and evolutions of commodity chain analysis and reviewing the key contributions to the literature. Secondly, this paper discusses weaknesses of the approach with a view towards broadening and enhancing this important body of research.
|Keywords:||Commodity Chain Analysis, World-systems Theory, Historical Capitalism, Terms of Trade, Price Mechanism|
PhD Student, Development Studies Program, Department of Rural Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA
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