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Inclusive Dualism Labour-intensive Development, Decent Work, and Surplus Labour in Southern Africa

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Inclusive Dualism Labour-intensive Development, Decent Work, and Surplus Labour in Southern Africa by Nattrass, Nicoli; Seekings, Jeremy, 9780198841463
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  • ISBN: 9780198841463 | 0198841469
  • Cover: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 7/24/2019
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W. Arthur Lewis, the founding father of development economics, proposed a dualist model of economic development in which 'surplus' (predominantly under-employed) labour shifted from lower to higher productivity work. In practice, historically, this meant that labour was initially drawn out of subsistence agriculture into low-wage, labour-intensive manufacturing, including in clothing production, before shifting into higher-wage work. This development strategy has become unfashionable. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) worries that low-wage, labour-intensive industry promises little more than an impoverishing 'race to the bottom'. Inclusive Dualism: Labour-intensive Development, Decent Work, and Surplus Labour in Southern Africa argues that decent work fundamentalism, that is the promotion of higher wages and labour productivity at the cost of lower-wage job destruction, is a utopian vision with potentially dystopic consequences for countries with high open unemployment, many of which are in Southern Africa.

Using the South African clothing industry as a case study Inclusive Dualism argues that decent work fundamentalism ignores the inherently differentiated character of industry resulting in the unnecessary destruction of labour-intensive jobs and the bifurcation of society into highly-paid, high-productivity insiders and low-paid or unemployed outsiders. It demonstrates the broader relevance of the South Africa case, examining the growth in surplus labour across Africa. It shows that low- and high-productivity firms can co-exist, and challenges the notion that a race to the bottom is inevitable. Inclusive Dualism instead favours multi-pronged development strategies that prioritise labour-intensive job creation as well as facilitating productivity growth elsewhere without destroying jobs.

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