The Social Construction of Free Trade

The Social Construction of Free Trade: The European Union, NAFTA, and Mercosur

Francesco Duina
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 272
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt4cgbpd
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  • Book Info
    The Social Construction of Free Trade
    Book Description:

    This book offers a compelling new interpretation of the proliferation of regional trade agreements (RTAs) at the end of the twentieth century. Challenging the widespread assumption that RTAs should be seen as fundamentally similar economic initiatives to pursue free trade, Francesco Duina proposes that the world is reorganizing itself into regions that are highly distinctive and enduring. With evidence from Europe, North America, and South America, he challenges our understanding of globalization, the nature of markets, and the spread of neoliberalism.

    The pursuit of free trade is a profoundly social process and, as such, a unique endeavor wherever it takes place. In an unprecedented comparative analysis, the book offers striking evidence of differences in the legal architectures erected to standardize the worldview of market participants and the reaction of key societal organizations--interest groups, businesses, and national administrations--to a broader marketplace. The author gives special attention to developments in three key areas of economic life: women in the workplace, the dairy industry, and labor rights. With its bold and original approach and its impressive range of data, The Social Construction of Free Trade represents a major advance in the growing fields of economic sociology and comparative regional integration.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4941-3
    Subjects: Sociology, Economics, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. LIST OF FIGURES AND TABLES
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. A NOTE ON TRANSLATIONS
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  6. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  7. Part I: Introduction and Theoretical Framework

    • Chapter 1 VISIONS OF FREE TRADE
      (pp. 3-28)

      The closing of the twentieth century and the opening of the twenty-first witnessed an unprecedented proliferation of regional trade agreements (RTAs). As Europe pushed for the completion of its regional market, a stunning number of countries in North America, South America, Africa, and Asia rushed to form regional markets of their own. Between 1990 and 1994, officials from the World Trade Organization (WTO) were notified of thirty-three new RTAs, more than doubling the total to sixtyeight (Frankel 1997: 4; International Monetary Fund 1994). Then, between 1995 and 2001, another one hundred RTAs formed. A patchwork now covered much of the...

    • Chapter 2 INSTITUTIONS, POLITICS, AND THE MAKING OF REGIONAL MARKETS
      (pp. 29-60)

      The proliferation of RTAs in the 1980s and 1990s raised a number of questions. Never before had the world witnessed so many countries enter into formal trade agreements with countries in their geographical proximity. Never before had there been such a collective and organized embrace of free trade principles across the globe. Startled by these events, a number of scholars confronted this wave of regional market building. Their responses varied, but most fell into one of three types. One group searched for the causes of this concurrent turn to free trade. A second wondered what the consequences of RTAs might...

  8. Part II: The Evolution of Law and Society in the EU, Mercosur, and NAFTA

    • Chapter 3 THE USE OF REGIONAL LAW TO STANDARDIZE REALITY
      (pp. 63-100)

      The EU, Mercosur, and NAFTA bring together countries with remarkably different cultural backgrounds and traditions. By the time of the major push for the completion of the common market in the late 1980s, the EU had member states as disparate as Greece, Denmark, Belgium, and Ireland. Mercosur combines three Spanish-speaking and ethnically homogenous countries with Brazil, a Portuguese-speaking country with a rich mixture of races and cultural traditions. NAFTA connects Canada, with its anglophone and francophone populations, with the diverse United States and predominantly Catholic, racially mixed, poorer and Spanishspeaking Mexico. The history of trade teaches us that cross-cultural exchanges...

    • Chapter 4 THE TARGETS AND CONTENT OF REGIONAL LAW
      (pp. 101-147)

      We have seen that officials in the EU, Mercosur, and NAFTA have pursued rather different strategies to address the difficulties associated with cross-cultural trade. NAFTA officials have engaged in only minimal standardization of the world. Officials in the EU and Mercosur have instead developed rich guidebooks to reality. In this chapter, I offer evidence of further differences across the three RTAs. When we compare standardizing notions across RTAs, are the targets and content of those notions similar? The evidence presented here suggests that important differences exist across RTAs.

      The focus is on three specific areas from the realm of economics:...

    • Chapter 5 SOCIETAL ADJUSTMENTS TO INTEGRATION
      (pp. 148-182)

      We have seen that regional law varies significantly across the EU, Mercosur, and NAFTA in ways that reflect local legal and power contexts. Yet law represents only one dimension of difference across RTAs. As market building progresses, additional transformations shape the physiognomy of each region in unique fashion. This chapter explores a second dimension of difference among RTAs: how organizations—specifically interest groups, businesses, and state administrations—have responded to regional integration. Chapter 4 analyzed laws in the areas of women’s rights, dairy products, and labor rights. This chapter focuses on the evolution of three sets of organizations active in...

  9. Part III: Conclusion

    • Chapter 6 REFLECTIONS ON THE PRESENT AND FUTURE
      (pp. 185-210)

      Market officials pursue trade liberalization in the midst of complex social realities. As they mobilize to erect structures to support a new regional economic space, a number of variables limit their options, constrain their behavior, and guide them toward certain solutions. The resulting regionallevel arrangements seldom represent abrupt or major departures from existing reality. They instead offer much continuity with that reality, translating at the transnational level conditions and dynamics present in most or all of the member states before integration. At the same time, the resulting new regional spaces generate unprecedented opportunities and pressures for societal players. How those...

  10. APPENDIX
    (pp. 211-216)
  11. REFERENCES
    (pp. 217-240)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 241-250)