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The Exclusionary Foundations of Embedded Liberalism

341 Eggers Hall

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Tom Pepinsky
Professor of Government

Cornell University

The Exclusionary Foundations of Embedded Liberalism

Under embedded liberalism, free trade, multinational investment, and liberal immigration policies enabled factors of production to flow across national borders. Analyses since Ruggie (1982) have focused on trade in goods and capital, implicitly assuming that labor represented just another factor of production. We argue that much as capital controls were essential components of the embedded liberal compromise, so too were restrictions on the democratic rights of labor migrants. Generous welfare programs in labor receiving countries thrived alongside accommodative immigration policies, but this arrangement was only tenable if migrants were politically or socially excluded in their destination countries. Embedded liberalism abroad rested on exclusionary political foundations at home. In bringing together the IPE literature on the “Globalization trilemma” (Rodrik) with the comparative politics of citizenship and membership exclusion, we provide a novel account of how embedded liberalism actually worked, with implications for current debates about the fate of the liberal order in a time of populist resurgence. The talk is based on a working paper of the same name, coauthored with Sara Wallace Goodman of UC Irvine.

For more information, please contact Daniel McDowell,

Sponsored by: The Comparitive Policy / International Relations Speaker Series at the Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs.

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Exterior of Maxwell in black and white when there was no Eggers building

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To mark our centennial in the fall of 2024, the Maxwell School will hold special events and engagement opportunities to celebrate the many ways—across disciplines and borders—our community ever strives to, as the Oath says, “transmit this city not only not less, but greater, better and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.”

Throughout the year leading up to the centennial, engagement opportunities will be held for our diverse, highly accomplished community that now boasts more than 38,500 alumni across the globe.