Masters Thesis

Structural inequality in global timber-based commodity chains

The current structure of the global political economy is based on a worldwide world-system which has and will continue to transform as history is written. Within this global economic system, understood as a world-system, capital accumulation is the dominant discourse and driving force of a system which simultaneously creates the rules while being regulated by them. Several integral and continual characteristics interact to create and reproduce this world-system, these characteristics include: a hierarchical global division of labor based on global zones, an inter-state system, anti-systemic movements, as well as cycles and rhythms of expansion and contraction. Commodities produced and consumed throughout the globe are products of a collection of processes which take place within this world-system, and are therefore impacted by the characteristics of the system. By examining some of these production processes within the global timber industry, the structural inequality of the global system as a whole becomes apparent. This research addresses the inequality structurally inherent in the world-system through analysis of various regions of the globe as well as the range of processes which often take place in the production of a single timber/wood product. Based on location within a global hierarchy, specific regions or zones of the world are beneficiaries of structural inequality whereas others bear the burden of continual consumption driven by the quest for endless accumulation. Rather than blaming the core regions of the world, the research hopes to draw attention to the system as a whole and raise consciousness of the environmental and social impacts that such a system generates