Global Commodity Chains & World Income Inequalities: The Missing Link of Inequality and the Upgrading Paradox

Benjamin D. Brewer


This article links key findings from two major research literatures within contemporary development and globalization studies: global commodity/value chains, and world income inequalities. Forging this missing link exposes what I call the upgrading paradox within commodity and value chain analysis. The paradox hinges on the disconnect between the global commodity/value chain literatures focus on the potential for firms and nations to upgrade their position within chains and the roots of the global commodity chain construct in world-systems analysis, a theoretical framework that rejects the potential for widespread and generalizable developmental progress. Findings from the world income inequalities literature do indeed confirm the paradoxical nature of the upgrading discourse, so I conclude by discussing two potential paths for a post-paradox commodity chain analysis.

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Copyright (c) 2015 Benjamin D. Brewer

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