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Locating the “Everyday” in International Political Economy: That Roar Which Lies on the Other Side of Silence

Juanita Elias
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2486.2010.00965.x 603-609 First published online: 1 December 2010
Everyday Politics of the World Economy. By John M. Hobson, Leonard Seabrooke. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. 254 pp., $36.99 paperback (ISBN-13: 978-0-521-70163-1).
Transnational Tortillas: Race, Gender, and Shop-Floor Politics in Mexico and the United States. By Carolina Bank Muñoz. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2008. 216 pp., $18.95 paperback (ISBN-13: 978-0-8014-7422-4).
Taking Southeast Asia to Market: Commodities, Nature and People in the Neoliberal Age. By Joseph Nevins, Nancy Lee Peluso. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2008. 277 pp., $24.95 paperback (ISBN-13: 978-0-8014-7433-0).


The three excellent books reviewed in this essay all, in different ways, challenge conventional understandings of how and what we study within International Political Economy (IPE)—emphasizing the role of everyday social relations, actions, and the perspectives of nonelite groups and actors in the making of the global political economy. Of the three books reviewed here, only one of the books specifically locates itself within the field of IPE and engages specifically with an IPE literature (Hobson and Seabrooke's collection Everyday Politics of the World Economy). However, the other two books that are written from the perspective of social anthropology (Nevins and Peluso's collection Taking Southeast Asia to Market) and labor/industrial sociology (Munoz's Transnational Tortillas) should rightfully be considered within a review essay focussing on the topic of “everyday IPE” in the sense that they are representative of literature that explores the interconnectedness between global processes of neoliberal political and economic governance and the roles that everyday actors perform in both reproducing and resisting these global shifts.

Nonetheless, the three books reviewed here have very different aims. Hobson and Seabrooke seek to demonstrate the significance of everyday actors and the everyday sources of political–economic change to an IPE audience more commonly preoccupied with discussions of economic “high politics” (what they label regulatory IPE). By contrast, the collection by Nevins and Peluso is part of an emerging body of literature focussed on “combining the cultural with the political economic” (p. 4) in demonstrating how the deepening reach of capitalist social relations into all aspects of everyday life is an issue that needs to be taken much more seriously by social anthropologists. These two volumes are usefully reviewed side by side because for Nevins and Peluso, the everyday should not be privileged at the expense of an appreciation of the broader structures of …

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