The hegemony of men in global value chains: why it matters for labour governance

Lauren McCarthy, Vivek Soundararajan, Scott Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
256 Downloads (Pure)


Substandard labour practices continue to be observed in global value chains (GVCs), even where there are strong legal frameworks and in those that engage with ethical accreditation schemes. We argue that this indicates a slow rate of progressive change in GVC labour governance, that is due in part to the lack of attention paid to the interplay of men, masculinities and GVC operation. We offer a reading of Jeff Hearn’s ‘hegemony of men’ framework as a means of showing and deconstructing men’s power within GVC labour standards and welfare programmes, to understand how particular forms of masculinity are reproduced to detrimental effect. Our critical review of the GVC literature emphasises the need to recognise how the social category of ‘men’ has both material and discursive effects on GVCs. We then present a research agenda that emphasises how an intersectional lens on the hegemony of men can surface how complexities of race, class, caste and other experiences of working in GVCs interact with dominant forms of masculinity. This would significantly enhance our understanding of how governance mechanisms might be better designed and operationalised in GVCs, for the betterment of all.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2051-2074
Number of pages24
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number12
Early online date24 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.


  • feminism
  • gender
  • global value chains
  • governance
  • hegemony
  • intersectionality
  • labour
  • masculinities
  • men

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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