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In this book Fulya Apaydin argues that labor responses to dramatic technological change are influenced by the political institutions of the Global South more than any other factor. In addressing vocational education programs – which are highly relevant in understanding how labor unrest is governed in developing settings – she makes two important contributions. Firstly, she offers a new theoretical framework to understand labor mobilization and de-mobilization patterns, rethinking vocational education as a key transmission belt for manufacturing labor consent. Secondly, she provides a systematic comparison of skill formation schemes and their implications on labor mobilization in federal and unitary systems. With a focus on Argentina and Turkey, two case studies are provided in which technology has provoked differing levels of strikes, walkouts and extended protest.



Chapter 1. Introduction: The Politics of Changing Hearts and Minds

This chapter introduces the argument and situates it within existing debates. In doing so, it takes an interdisciplinary approach and combines insights from the writings of Karl Marx with those from an institutionalist, political economy perspective. Specifically, the chapter makes two key contributions. First, the discussion reveals how vocational training and education policy has turned into a major instrument for controlling labor unrest in the Global South. Second, it argues that the organization of political power plays a key role in this process. In developing these points, the chapter presents an overview of the conflict instigated by new production technologies in developing settings and reviews what is at stake. After briefly explaining the logic of case selection and the methodology, it concludes by presenting an outline of the book.
Fulya Apaydin

Chapter 2. Automobiles, Skill Formation and Development

This chapter develops the analytical foundations of the argument, paying special attention to the changing role of the state in skill formation. It begins with a discussion of the automobile industry by highlighting its significance in a historical perspective. It then documents changes brought about by a transition from assembly-line production to a flexible system that is more sensitive to consumer demands. This process thrives on the creation of new skills that secure worker commitment to the company and discipline the labor force. The final section discusses the role of the state in capital accumulation in a cross-national perspective and suggests that new skill formation processes are shaped by the political context in which local and national officials interact.
Fulya Apaydin

Chapter 3. All Quiet on the Turkish Front: Workers and Skill Formation After Fordism in a Unitary Setting in Bursa

This first empirical chapter adds flesh to theoretical debates and shows how automobile workers in Bursa, Turkey gave their full consent to proposed changes after an intensive exposure to new production principles at vocational schools. This chapter details the process that led to the development of a comprehensive transformation in skill formation schemes in Bursa enabling a smoother surplus extraction under a unitary system of government. Automobile producers in this province collaborated with the local governor for adding new modules to vocational education curricula that focused on behavioral change thanks to the absence of a broader political conflict. Public schools modified their curricula, and local labor unions actively promoted the participation of their members in similar seminars and trainings. Consequently, worker resistance to the introduction of flexible production schemes and just-in-time delivery was very short-lived thanks to a unitary system that brought local and central politicians onto the same page.
Fulya Apaydin

Chapter 4. A Persistent Refusal: Córdoba’s Contentious Workers in Federal Argentina

Shifting the focus across the Atlantic, this chapter explores how a different arrangement prevailed in Córdoba. This case shows how firm-based arrangements without a supporting public scheme characterize the industrial landscape especially when economic and political stakeholders are divided into partisan camps under a federal system. In contrast to FIAT-Bursa, FIAT-Córdoba managers were caught under the fire as the federal and local governments engaged in a prolonged conflict over the issue of economic reforms. During this fight, local politicians lacked resources to effectively finance the proposed changes in vocational schools, and the federal government intervened to push forward a new training agenda. However, the resulting arrangements were far from consolidating a frictionless worker commitment to new production principles, and prolonged instances of shopfloor conflict characterized the industrial relations in this environment.
Fulya Apaydin

Chapter 5. After Fordism: The Politics of Industrial Conflict Patterns in the Global South

This chapter situates the findings from Turkey and Argentina in a broader sample and presents findings on how federalism has a prolonging impact on labor mobilization in developing countries. Based on panel data analysis, it shows that federal systems are more conducive to prolonged labor mobilization in contrast to their unitary counterparts. The discussion documents empirical support for this argument based on a sample of 37 middle and lower-middle income countries (including Turkey and Argentina in the sample) for the period between 1990 and 2012. These findings offer important clues to further unpack how the organization of government influences labor responses to industrial upgrading in Turkey and Argentina.
Fulya Apaydin

Chapter 6. Conclusion: Technological Change, Institutions and Labor in Developing Contexts

The final chapter summarizes the findings, situating them in a broader debate on skill formation policies while paying special attention to the trade-off between economic development and democratization. The chapter also highlights two follow-up questions that emerge out of these results. First, how well does the argument travel to other economic sectors? Does the arrival of new technologies unfold similarly across the manufacturing sector beyond automobiles? Second, developing countries like Turkey and Argentina are included among economies with increasing numbers of workers with no formal contract. How do political institutions shape the responses of informal labor in the face of rapidly changing production technologies? The chapter concludes by briefly assessing contemporary technological challenges (such as the rise of robotics, artificial intelligence and diffusion of electric cars) to labor mobilization in developing areas.
Fulya Apaydin


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