Global supply chains and social relations at work: Brokering across boundaries

© 2018, © The Author(s) 2018. Global supply chains are not just instruments for the exchange of economic goods and flow of capital across borders. They also connect people in unprecedented ways across social and cultural boundaries and have created new, interrelated webs of social relationships that are socially embedded. However, most of the existing theories of work are mainly based at the level of the corporation, not on the network of relations that interlink them, and how this may impact on work and employment relations. We argue that this web of relations should not just be seen in economic, but also social terms, and that the former are embedded and enabled by the latter. This article argues for the value of focusing on the role of brokers and boundary workers in mediating social relat ions across global supply chains. It develops four approaches that lie on a spectrum from structural perspectives focused on brokers who link otherwise unconnected actors to more constructivist ones focused on boundary workers performing translation work between domains.