Keywords: media, power, staple chains, global commodity chains, staples, filieres, environmental governance, natural resources, political economy, green economics, raw materials, semi-processed goods, fair trade
Power, political economy and environmental governance: staple chains as media of power
This paper critically compares radical and reformist global commodity chain analysis with two other traditions: Canadian staples analysis and the analysis of filieres. It considers what each can contribute to a critical analysis of essentially linear production and exchange complexes, particularly for the extraction and export of raw materials and semiprocessed goods. The article offers elements of a schematic model for such 'staple chains' and for the effective exercise of power through them. The article understands staple chains as media of power (Innis,  1970; 1936; 1954; McLuhan,  1965) and a problem of governance for environmentalists, fair-trade advocates and staple-chain stakeholders.