Those new touch screen warm cozy gloves you just got have likely lived through off-shore manufacturing, traveled across the seas in shipping containers, visited warehouses, waited around in fulfillment centers.
They are the manifestation of digital automation and often highly gendered global assembly lines. They pump the arteries of global capitalism.
They reflect national, class, and gender hierarchies and vast technological differences, with high profits on one end and precarious labor contracts on the other end.
The management of these complex supply chains is a fine-tuned game of consumer-driven factory orders, data flows, robots, GPS, and digital surveillance.
We have all gone to the grocery store and pushed our shopping carts in front of empty shelves. Before the pandemic, supply chains were the stuff of Amazon, WalMart, technological innovators, CEOs, economists, and the Wall Street Journal. Now, they have moved from the shadows into the common parlance of daily life.
This roundtable will confront our reliance on these supply chains and the impact that COVID-19 has had on the workers, profit margins, and consumers in the global economy.
Supply chains: How do they work? Why do they matter? Why are they international? Why have they broken down?