Society and Free Trade in a Global World
The last twenty five years have witnessed a revolution in trade patterns around the world, a re-organization of production around the globe, and a transformation of systems of industrial relations, resulting from the gradual removal of trade barriers and of restrictions to the movement of capital. As Polanyi would have predicted, this move toward a self-regulated market has not gone unchallenged. The literature, however, is only slowly beginning to examine the character of societal reactions to free trade.
The conference addresses from a theoretical and empirical perspectives how polities, intermediate social actors, and the population at large are reacting to free trade policies. The conference program includes guest speakers with complementary expertises on the different dimensions of the free trade policy social equation and a selection of papers submitted in answer to a competitive call for papers. The format of the conference consists of public presentations by each of the participants, followed by a discussion period. This discussion period will offer an opportunity for people to present their views on the trend toward more open markets, about the societal reactions triggered by this trend, and about the institutional changes the trend toward free trade implies. The conference is divided into three main blocs. The first bloc of presentations provides a theoretical overview of the challenge under discussion. The second bloc of presentations presents empirical material regarding how trade unions and the population in Europe have reacted to the liberalization of trade, with a special focus on the European Union's enlargement process. Finally, the third bloc of presentations moves outside Europe to examine reactions to free trade in Latin America and Oceania.
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