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Power, profit, and principles: industry opportunity structures and the political mobilisation of jewellers

Bloomfield, Michael (2012) Power, profit, and principles: industry opportunity structures and the political mobilisation of jewellers. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis focuses on the creation of private environmental and social regulation through the interaction of non-state actors in the US market for gold jewellery. By investigating the role of business actors in the development of private regulation through their cooperation and contestation with civil society activists, this study brings a business power lens to the study of non-state institution-building. It focuses on a new case and elaborates on current understandings of ‘industry opportunity structures’ (IOSs), taking a model built for the study of social movements and applying it to business actors. It seeks to treat agents from the private sector as political actors in their own right and traces the effects of industry structures on the emergence, development, and impact of the political mobilisation of ethical, specialty, and diversified jewellers. It argues that business actors face different opportunities for political leverage during the private institution-building process depending on the nature of the firm within which they are embedded. It helps explain the variation observed in firm responses to activist contestation while informing debates over the broader implications of the increasing emergence of private regulation in the global economy. Business actors are embedded agents, subject to the constraints of industry structures and market forces. Opportunities for business actors to mobilise firm resources for political purposes varies with the opportunity window available to them, which expands or contracts with the politicisation of the market. Therefore, contrary to previous interpretations, civil society contestation can actually empower institutional entrepreneurs from the private sector to shape the regulatory landscape. While market forces privilege ‘business interests’, and business power safeguards the autonomy of industry, through learning and leadership there appears to be a cumulative effect to contentious politics that has the potential to ratchet-up private regulation in both its depth and breadth of coverage.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2010 Michael John Bloomfield
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Supervisor: Falkner, Robert

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