How did activists create a dynamic broad-based movement during NAFTA negotiations that politicized trade, making it a contentious issue for the first time in history? And how did their NAFTA mobilization influence trade policy and set the stage for future battles over trade? Trade Battles draws on hundreds of in-depth interviews with Mexican, Canadian, and U.S. trade negotiators, labor and environmental activists, and government officials, and an extensive analysis of archival materials to understand the role of civil society in shaping state policy. Trade Battles shows how activists politicized trade policy by creating a new set of institutionalized and disruptive strategies around trade that leveraged broader cleavages across state and nonstate arenas. Activists exploited these leverage points by mobilizing across them, which enabled them not only to politicize trade policy with legislators and trade policy officials and among the public, but also to influence the content of the agreement itself. So powerful was activists' pushback against NAFTA that future administrations closed many state institutional channels in order to thwart public opposition, curtailing public access, participation and input. This forced activists to try to kill subsequent trade agreements whole cloth rather than improve them, as they did during the NAFTA struggle. Trade Battles reveals that the NAFTA battle was less about trade policy than the role of democratic state institutions in policymaking. By exposing the linkages between institutional opportunities and democratic practices, it reveals how critical state institutions are for activists' efforts to shape not only trade policy, but a number of international policies from climate change to migration. When the state closes institutions, it effectively severs policymaking from democratic intervention.
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Number of pages: 264
Weight: 10 g
Dimensions: 235 x 156 mm
"When NAFTA was being debated in the early 1990s, enthusiasm for the neoliberal 'project' was at a fever pitch. Yet, against long odds and near unanimous elite support, an emergent coalition of labor and environmental activists managed to politicize the proposed treaty and shape the final agreement in significant ways. In Trade Battles, Kay and Evans offer a compelling account of this outcome. But theirs is also a cautionary tale of how this outcome led state actors to insulate trade policy from movement intervention, eroding democracy in the process."
-Doug McAdam, Stanford University
"Kay and Evans recount a quarter-century of civil society's 'inside' and 'outside' advocacy campaigns on labor and environmental standards in trade agreements. Starting with NAFTA and then tracing post-NAFTA trade agreements, the authors explore diverging strategies among advocates who seek a seat at the table and those who view trade agreements as cookbooks, with workers and the environment on the menu. This insightful framing analysis by two prominent scholars is also a ripping good story for those interested in trade, labor, and environmental affairs."
-Lance Compa, Cornell University
You may also be interested in...
Please sign in to write a review
Thank you for your reservation
Your order is now being processed and we have sent a confirmation email to you at
When will my order be ready to collect?
Call us on or send us an email at
Unfortunately there has been a problem with your order
Please try again or alternatively you can contact your chosen shop on or send us an email at