Tim Bartley’s research focuses on inequality and accountability in global production networks. He is especially interested in social movements and standards pertaining to labor rights and environmental justice.
His 2018 book, Rules without Rights: Land, Labor, and Private Authority in the Global Economy, (Oxford University Press) examines standards for decent work and sustainable development “on the ground” in Indonesia and China. Based on interviews with practitioners in each country, documentary evidence, and quantitative analyses, the book shows what corporate accountability and sustainability initiatives accomplish and why they so often fail. The book received the 2019 Harold and Margaret Sprout Award from the Environmental Studies section of the International Studies Association and an honorable mention from the Global and Transnational Sociology section of the American Sociological Association.
Before coming to Washington University in St. Louis, Bartley was on the faculty at Indiana University and Ohio State University. He has published articles on social movements, regulation, and transnational fields in the American Sociological Review, American Journal of Sociology, Social Forces, Social Problems, the Socio-Economic Review, and other journals.
In a new line of research, he is examining the various dimensions of inequality within, between, and around global production networks. This includes analyses of international trade and rising inequality in poor and middle-income countries; analyses of exploitation and gendered work in supply chains for apparel, electronics, food, home furnishings, and other products; and a survey experiment to gauge perceptions of corporate accountability. In a related line of research, he is examining legality/illegality as a global regulatory frame, with particular attention to illegal fishing, wage theft, and land grabs. In another new project, he has begun to examine the social implications of predictive analytics and Artificial Intelligence, with particular attention to corporate accountability in “surveillance capitalism.”