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Birkbeck academic receives PEWS Wallerstein Memorial Book Award

Dr Ashok Kumar was presented the award for the book ‘Monopsony Capitalism: Power and Production in the Twilight of the Sweatshop Age’.

Dr Ashok Kumar standing outside, smiling for the camera.

A book by Dr Ashok Kumar, Senior Lecturer in Birkbeck’s Department of Management, has received the PEWS Immanuel Wallerstein Memorial Book Award. The annual award from the American Sociological Association commemorates the sociologist and economic historian Immanuel Wallerstein and recognises the best world-systems book.

Monopsony Capitalism: Power and Production in the Twilight of the Sweatshop Age’ (Cambridge University Press, 2020) looks at the relationship between firms, workers and states under the backdrop of a world system. Through an empirical analysis of workers’ unrest in China, India and Honduras, complimented by archival research from the United States alongside detailed examinations from Turkey, Vietnam and Cambodia, the book treats the development of industrial capitalism as a dynamic process, tracing and analysing production from conception to consumption.

The highly acclaimed text was also awarded the Paul Sweezy Outstanding Book Award in 2021.

Dr Kumar said: ““To receive the book prize in memory of Immanuel Wallerstein is a great honour. Wallerstein’s world system analysis wasn’t a theory as much as a protest against neglected issues and deceptive epistemologies. I’m grateful to the committee for choosing to recognize Monopsony Capitalism within such a rich tradition.”

Dr Libon Fung, Head of the Department of Management, said: “I am delighted to see ‘Monopsony Capitalism’ recognised with a second award from the American Sociological Association. It is testament to the importance of Dr Kumar’s research as part of ongoing efforts to support workers’ rights in sectors with historically poor working conditions.”

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