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The Value of Rents: Global Commodity Chains and Small Cocoa Producers in Ecuador

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Thomas Purcell, Estefania Martinez-Esguerra, Nora Fernandez

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)641-661
Issue number3
Early online date17 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


King's Authors


Drawing on the Marxian theory of ground rent, this paper develops an analysis of “global commodity chains” (GCCs) with agrarian roots. There is an acknowledgement that the concentrated downstream governance of primary commodity‐based GCCs has created a set of “asymmetrical” power relations which blocks the transmission of value upstream towards small producers. This paper argues that this research under‐specifies what is meant by value and rent, and in doing so marginalises the analysis of value production before its journey through inter‐firm relations. We demonstrate the importance of theorising the value constitution of commodities produced on the land and the forces that contest the payment of ground rent and thereby shape the geography of GCCs. Based on empirical research conducted around Ecuador's “post‐neoliberal” cocoa re‐activation plan, we identify the class politics and production mechanisms through which value and rent escapes the hands of a stratified network of small owner producers.

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