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Model Change: Wal-Mart, General Motors, and the ‘New World’ of Retail Supremacy

Citation

Coclanis, Peter A. (2007). Model Change: Wal-Mart, General Motors, and the ‘New World’ of Retail Supremacy. Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas, 4(1), 49-58.

Abstract

In his spirited and ambitious essay, Nelson Lichtenstein attempts at once to draw attention to and to link “the deindustrialization of Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland”; the rise of big box retailers such as Home Depot, Carrefour, and especially WalMart; and the establishment of the Pearl River delta region of southeastern China as the preeminent low-wage manufacturing auxiliary of these retailing juggernauts. In Lichtenstein’s view, this linkage is fraught with heavy interpretive weight, representing a world historical transition in capitalism from manufacturing domination to “retail supremacy,” of which transition Lichtenstein disapproves. Why? The most plausible reason, although never stated explicitly—an unarticulated major premise, as it were—would seem to be because this transition likely sounds the knell for the bloated, badly managed, rent-seeking, unionized manufacturing model that has held sway for far too long in parts of the world manufacturing core. The kind of manufacturing, that is to say, that Lichtenstein and many other North American labor historians continue not merely to defend, but to champion.

URL

http://dx.doi.org/10.1215/15476715-2006-036

Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published

2007

Journal Title

Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas

Author(s)

Coclanis, Peter A.