This work is a critique of orthodox conceptions of social exclusion in the global political economy. Following Foucault’s methodology, our argument is that orthodox political-economic discourses, from 18th and 19th century classical political economy to late 20th century neoliberalism, provide only partial and limited accounts of social exclusion, and as such obscure its production and reproduction within the global political economy. We uncover this problem by first examining the contemporary period of globalization, which reveals a discrepancy between orthodox discourse taken at face value and the actuality of social exclusion. Marx’s critique of classical political economy exposes the fundamental basis of this discrepancy as the way in which the false assumptions of orthodox discourse make the market appear ‘natural’ to human social relations. Exclusion is thus conceived as the state of being on the outside of the market and associated structures and institutions. This obscures how both the historical construction and political governance of the market produce patterns of social exclusion. To move beyond this failing we employ Marx’s historical materialism as an alternative perspective which brings to light the production of exclusion within and as a product of social structures and institutions. We combine this with Foucault’s notion of power to establish a framework to investigate the production of social exclusion in terms of land, labour, capital, rights, gender and truth. Initially we develop this as a general mode of inquiry, leading to brief studies of feudal Europe, classical Islam and T’ang China. Then we apply this framework to the historical construction and political governance of the market within the capitalist global political economy, drawing upon the work of Marx along with Stephen Gill, Antonio Gramsci and David Harvey. We study three historical periods to show the production of social exclusion at work. First, agrarian capitalism and the Industrial Revolution in England and their impact upon world trade. Second, the post-1945 ‘Golden Age’ of capitalism. And third, the post-1970s era of globalization. This work makes a contribution to knowledge by being the first attempt to understand the global political economy as a whole in terms of inclusion / exclusion, and the first systematic application of the concept of social exclusion on a global scale
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