Over the past three decades, the emergence of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries has raised debates about global convergence, and the concepts of global inequality that are associated with it. In development economics, the concept of global convergence typically relates to economic growth and quality of life, and specifically refers to developing countries achieving closer parity in economic performance with advanced capitalist economies and improvements in human capital (e.g., education, health). Divergence refers to wider separation and growing differentiation between core and peripheral zones of the world economy. Against this backdrop, the 2008-2009 global economic crisis, or the “Great Recession”, motivated further discussion of a “rise of the global south” and a “east-south turn” where the gravity of international trade and production and trade is slowly shifting from the US and Western Europe to Asia, Africa Latin America. Following the crisis, many scholars claimed that these trends signal a new era of global cooperation and development between global South economies that is not only reconfiguring governance within the world economy. However, more than a decade after the crisis and many of these theoretical questions lack empirical examination, which weakens our scholarly understanding of the crisis’ impact on the world economy. Thus, the current research is motivated by the following questions: How did the 2008-2009 global financial crisis affect global networks of production and trade? Did this effect translate into profound changes in the structure of the world economy? To address these questions, Jacinto develops an analytical framework draws upon a blend of relational-structural orientations—world-systems and global value chains theories—with a relational-structural methodology—social network analysis—to conceptualize these global networks of production and trade as comprising an international division of labor that structures inequalities between core and periphery economies. A key contribution of this study will be modeling the global economy as a large dynamic network of international trade that experienced and then adapted to one of the most devastating economic crises in the history of the modern world economy.
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