Global Commodity Chains

1000 or more words of narrative text (no maximum word count)
Double-spaced 11 or 12-point Times New Roman font; in-text citations; references section; APA format.


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The worldwide network of social relations and labor activities involved in the creation, distribution, consumption, and disposal of a commodity.
Social relations: labor, capitalists, nation-states, and consumers; society/nature
Labor activities: product design and financing; capture/extraction/cultivation of raw materials; processing; transportation; distribution/sale; purchase/consumption; and disposal
Impacts: socioeconomic, political, environmental
Culture of capitalism/global commodity chains
Karl Polanyi’s Paradox (as defined in GPCC)
Negative externalities
Internalizing negative externalities
Example: “The coffee commodity chain is the linked sequence of activities involved in growing coffee, processing it, shipping it, roasting it, … selling it to consumers” (John Talbot) and disposing of it.
Video example: Coffee

Choose either a specific commodity or some aspect of a commodity chain (such as its labor and/or ownership/control conditions; social, economic, environmental, and/or health consequences; political violence/wars; etc.).
Emphasize relationships and activities of labor, capitalists, nation-states, consumers, and the natural environment.
The global culture of capitalism
Global commodity chains
Negative externalities
Karl Polanyi’s Paradox (as defined in GPCC; not Michael Polanyi’s Paradox)
Challenges of internalizing externalities (more or less = “sustainability”)

If you want to focus on Covid-19 (or any other “signature” disease):

Briefly describe and explain the principal relationships within the global culture of capitalism, including global commodity chains.
What are “negative externalities”?
What is “Karl Polanyi’s Paradox” (as defined in GPCC; not Michael Polanyi’s Paradox)?
What are the basic questions to ask about patterns of disease at any point in time and space?
What defines a “signature disease” of a specific historical time and pattern of geographic connections?
Describe the possible cause and transmission of Covid-19 in terms of the relationships between (1) culture and disease; (2) cities and disease; (3) environmental change and disease; and (4) human ecology and disease.
Within this framework, how is Covid-19 a “signature disease”? And how does it reflect negative externalities and Karl Polanyi’s Paradox?
What are arguments for healthcare as a global public good (and as a human right), as opposed to healthcare as an individual, commodified choice? For information on Global Commodity Chains check on this:

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