Kurzexposé zur Dissertation von Serhat Yalcin
Social forces and the making of policies towards the international mobility of capital and labour in the Gulf Arab states
One of the most salient and contested aspects of the globalisation debate has been the increased international mobility of capital, people and information. Within the field of Global Political Economy (GPE) the debate has been dominated by the question whether and how far the state is involved or affected within this process. One of the arguments put forward in this context is that states actively promote the international mobility of capital but restrict the international mobility of labour. This debate builds the background of the research question of the PhD project which is whether and why state policies towards the international mobility of capital and labour differ or, more generally, how we can theoretically account for state policies towards the international mobility of capital and labour by using a single analytical framework incorporating state policies towards both forms of mobility.
The PhD analyses state policies towards foreign direct investments (FDI) as one form of the international mobility of capital and state policies towards international labour migration as international labour mobility at the case of the Gulf Arab states. This is important for two reasons. First, the field of GPE (and International Relations (IR) more generally) is strongly characterised by a largely absence of the Middle Eastern region and consequently of the Gulf Arab region which, however, is a central node of the global capitalist economy. The reasons for this largely absence will be critically discussed with reference to the more recent arguments that the field of IR/GPE is deeply Eurocentric. The PhD will also highlight that the field of GPE/IR on the one hand and area and regional studies on the Middle East on the other hand have been largely disconnected. Second, the field of GPE is equally characterised by largely absence of labour and international labour mobility. Whereas the international mobility of capital in its different forms (commodity capital/trade, money capital/portfolio investments, productive capital/FDI) has become an inseparable part of GPE labour and the international mobility of labour as international labour migration has been to a great extent absent from the field.
Theoretically, the PhD is adopting the Neo-Gramscian perspective based upon a detailed discussion of the (neo-)realist and neoliberal institutionalist perspectives regarding the research question and regarding their ontological and epistemological limits. Based upon the analysis of the political debate and the legal development, i.e. the design, implementation, enforcement and change of laws and regulations related to FDI and international labour migration in the Gulf Arab states the PhD will develop three main arguments. First, as a result of the neoliberal transformation since the 1980s state policies towards the international mobility of capital have increasingly become to be concerned with creating a “business-friendly” environment in order to attract more FDI. The Gulf Arab states have been equally influenced by this transformation and introduced policies favouring the internationally mobile capital and providing incentives for foreign investors regarding the entry, operation and exit of FDI. Second, state policies towards international labour migration have become to be characterised by the attempt to subordinate it to the needs of both internationally mobile and nationally based capital and to regulate it within a framework of temporary labour migration. The regulation of international labour migration on the dimensions of entry, stay, work and exit of migrant workers in the Gulf Arab states insofar reflects the needs of the capitalist economy as a whole and the interests of capital in specific. Third, however, the making of these policies takes place with regard to different involved and/or affected social forces with opposing interests at the international and national stage. Policies towards FDI and international labour migration insofar constitute fields of struggle revealing contradictory tendencies.