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Durham University

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Publication details

Hudson, R. (2008). Cultural political economy meets global production networks: a productive meeting? Journal of Economic Geography 8(3): 421-440.

Author(s) from Durham


In this article, I explore some of the implications of pursuing a cultural political economy (CPE) approach to the analysis of global production networks (GPNs). This raises three sets of issues: the current state of knowledge about GPNs; the current state of knowledge about CPE and the current state of relationships between analyses of GPNs and CPE. GPNs can be seen as encompassing the entirety of the circuit of production and to be constituted via a variety of flows (of capital in various forms such as commodities and money, knowledge and people) between a variety of nodes, sites and spaces (of production, exchange and consumption), with varying governance arrangements, both multi-scalar (supra-national, national, regional and urban) and non-scalar networked forms of governance. As these are Global Production Networks these nodes and the flows linking them are, by definition, distributed around the globe, albeit unevenly. CPE seeks to conjoin a more thorough treatment of the semiotic to more established concepts of political economy and there has been some considerable success in this regard [for example see Jessop and Sum (2006 Beyond the Regulation Approach. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar)]. As yet, however, there has been little serious engagement with the materiality of the economy and so with the relations between the material, semiotic and political economic within CPE. A similar criticism can be made of work on GPNs. Integrating considerations of the materiality of the economy more systematically enriches a CPE perspective, while exploring common ground between CPE and GPN approaches enables these advantages to be translated into the latter and further enhance its conceptual reach.