Evolving humanity, emerging worlds
Manchester, UK; 5th-10th August 2013
Reconfiguring capitalism, reconfiguring industry, reconfiguring livelihoods
Location Alan Turing Building G107
Date and Start Time 06 Aug, 2013 at 09:00
Crucial transformations of hegemonic economic models have spread around the globe. Local development paths are influenced by the circulation of international flows of different resources, producing actions and effects, while being the outcome of specific negotiations of meanings and relationships.
In the wake of globalization where international flows of commodities, capital and people have intensified, industry has experienced crucial transformations based on new parameters of productivity and innovation. Industry has been re-localized, evolving as a central asset of emergent countries in a similar way as when it was a growth model (the 'driving force') of western national economies until the 1970s. In this panel we will focus on the industries that were considered 'strategic' or 'key' during the first part of the 20th century (Steel, shipyards, but also automobile, mining, energy, etc.) and we will analyze the transformations that have resulted from the demise of the economic-nation-building model that sustained the development of large, state supported industries and a vision of full employment. Such industries gave a means of stability and livelihood to many workers and their families, and they still do, but with the reconfigurations of the spaces of industrial capitalism, these workers' lives have also been reconfigured. We will address three issues in relation to these transformations: 1) The meaning of work stability vs. uncertainty in the new configurations of the industrial production structure, in particular its effects on solidarity. 2) The possibilities of creating meaningful links and projects across generations through the transmission of knowledge, skills, values and job opportunities, in particular the transformation of the patrimonial value of work experience. 3) The meanings and consequences of technological change for the work and livelihood of industrial workers."
Chair: Sharryn Kasmir
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Global dynamics, local responses to industrial innovation and livelihood transformations
Innovation is a key issue in global firms. I will analyze how this has radically changed the training, performance and evaluation of engineers and technicians in the workplace and has a direct impact in their lifestyles in industrial Mexico.
We are witnessing a critical transformation on the industrial production world-wide, specially, because of its centrality on innovation. This later is and will continue be a strategic resource in the global economy. Knowledge production, diffusion and control are key issue in industry. It has radically changed the training, performance and evaluation of engineers and technicians in the workplace. In this essay, I will analyze how this globalized productive dynamic of the automobile industry is experienced in the central region of Mexico and its impact in the workforce lifestyles. In order to achieve this, I present a space-place analysis, taking in consideration five planes: the first one is the supranational level of analysis, in order to understand the logic of the global production chains based on productivity and innovations. The second is the national-regional plane geared to understand the specific context where these subsidiaries are located. The third plane is specific trajectories of engineers and technicians in an individual basis. The fourth has to do with the livelihood of this workforce, being the unit of analysis their families. The last one is the impact on their social networks and communities, considering the changes and continuities in the workers' livelihood.
Innovations and Institutions on the Peripheries of Technological Commons
Technological innovation creates new goods and resources and risks, the allocation of which is then subject to negotiation. Communities on the peripheries of innovation have limited ability to bargain over the allocations of risk and benefit. Examining innovations in transportation, information, and biological technologies, I demonstrate that technological innovation has the potential for magnifying inequities in the world system.
Technological innovations, particularly those that can be characterized as "disruptive innovation," (Christiansen 2008) create new forms of value, whether in the values of immediacy, connectivity, or mastery of information. Yet as Michel Callon (1998) has observed, in any régime of value, decisions of what to externalize and what to internalize are governed more by convention than by any Laws of Nature: Technological innovations create new common pool resources, the control of which, particularly in the earlier stages of technological development, require considerable negotiation and institution-building. Technological Peripheries (Batteau 2009) are locations (geographic and institutional) that have a weak hand in these negotiations: they must accept the new régime of value, with its allocative decisions (who gets what) already made. Technologies that hold great promise in core locations often create new forms of inequity and inequality on the periphery. These points are illustrated with overviews of the development and institution-building of transportation, information, and biological technologies.
Paper will examine conceptual resemblances and differences between various forms of communal, self governing and small scale economies from the past and present, which can be perceived as alternative or additional models to current globalised, centralised and financialised forms of reproduction.
Contemporary social and theoretical responses to global economic crisis have emphasised the importance and potentials of self-governing, regional, communal, small-scale, ecologically responsible patterns of economic and social organisation. These views are partly based in social memory (ancient equity, commons, co-operatives, communes, 15o ...), but they are also part of anthropological theoretical heritage (Radcliffe-Brown, Mauss, Sahlins, Graeber etc).
Paper will examine conceptual resemblances and differences between various forms of communal, self governing and small scale economies from the past and present, which could be perceived as alternative or additional models to current globalised, nationalised, centralised, informational, financialised forms of production, exchange and consumption. 'Alternative models' are usually analysed by different academic disciplines or subfields, although their objectives and outcomes are many times similar. Are these models really additional to mainstream economics or basic for sustainable human and economic reproduction?
Generational change and the meaning of work - reflections from the steel industry
This paper is concerned with the implications of local, national and global domains in relation to production, with special reference to the steel industry. Drawing on the findings of a collaborative and interdisciplinary research project on the effects of economic models on local contexts with special reference to the steel industry, the paper discusses the implications of place in relation to transmissions of knowledge, conditions of work and the status of workers.
This paper is concerned with two main issues. In the first place, it explores the implications of local, national and global domains in relation to production, with special reference to the steel industry. In the second place, it reflects on the range of meanings and experiences of work in a changing industrial landscape. Drawing on the findings of a collaborative and interdisciplinary research project that analyzes the effects of economic models on local contexts through a multi-sited ethnography of the steel industry, the paper discusses the implications of place in relation to transmissions of knowledge, conditions of work and the status of workers. The central argument concerns the enduring significance of history, place and locality in the context of global processes that impinge on the conditions affecting social and economic actors, ideas and resources relating to work and production.
Mexican, Chilean and Catalonian family firms cope with great corporations
Organizations, such as corporations, represent modern society and are concatenate decisions systems, that tend to organize everything around. Certain environments induce family firms to transform into organizations, but in others, they organize around patron/client relations.
States and supranational organizations, such as the European Economic Union, NAFTA and MERCOSUR (American commercial treaties) are great organizations (Luhmann, 2010) that tend to organize productive units so as to have control over them. On the other side, managerial literature tends to affirm that family firms are not productive and have to disappear on behalf of highly organized corporations. Even though, research on family firms shows that even within these tendencies, family firms represent over the 80% of the Spanish firms (Instituto de la empresa familiar española), more than 65% of the Chilean (Martínez Echezárraga) and may be around more than the 95% of the Mexican (Pérez Lizaur,2010). Fieldwork among Mexican, Chilean and Catalonian family firms show different responses and patterns of development in these organized environments and pressures, depending on many sort of strategies. Many family firms tend to find their way so as to cope with supranational and State's organizational policies, on behalf of familiar interests, based in patron/client relationships. These strategies may help family firms to innovate managerial and productive systems. Those firms and families unable to cope with highly organized environments tend to disappear.
Reconfiguring "global capitalism" beyond the regulationist approach: The emergence of the global regime of export processing zones and special economic zones after 1945
Based on examples from the large-scale relocation of industries from the US-northeast to Puerto Rico after 1945 that triggered the worldwide spread of export processing zones, I develop a multipolar approach to the global relocation of industry that explains changes in capitalist accumulation.
Anthropological works from Harvey to Graeber often follow regulation theory's conceptual periodisation of world history that assumes a single regime of accumulation determining the location of industry (and capitalism in general) on a global scale. Building on Baca's critique of the "Legends of Fordism", this paper argues that relocation of industries does not necessarily follow a unilinear development. Instead, I show how economic models guided by flexible accumulation and locational advantages as well as other changes in the spatio-temporal fixes of capital (Harvey) emerged in the US and elsewhere as early as 1945. In those days, the US dependency of Puerto Rico embarked on a large-scale program of industrial restructuring that soon attracted numerous relocations of production from the US-Northeast. By tracing how this process was negotiated and contested in both regions and identifying the actors involved I show how profound changes in global capitalism have begun in peripheries such as Puerto Rico. This was so because what emerged in Puerto Rico after 1945 was the blueprint for the global regime of export processing zone/special economic zones that dominates global manufacturing in many sectors in the present. From this I conclude that here we find a process similar to that identified by Sidney Mintz' who argued that Caribbean sugar production processes were the blueprint for European industrial revolutions. In sum, this paper argues that global capitalism's historical development can only be accurately periodised as "neoliberal" or "fordist" if the so-called peripheries are considered.
Spain is the problem, Europe the solution: economic models, the state, labor organization and the hope for a better future
The paper addresses the long re-structuring process in the heavy industry in Spain and its impact on working class identity by exploring 1) the effects of different models and policies, 2) future expectations of social wellbeing and 3) practical capabilities of organization.
This paper will address the long re-structuring process in the heavy industry (shipbuilding, steel) in Spain and its effects on the emergence and demise of a working class identity. Focusing on the relationship between state and industry it will seek to unpack the centrality of particular models of economic development in the production of stability and instability. Historically, during the Francoist dictatorship, after a phase where nationalistic models of the economy ("import substitution") that favored full employment policies articulated with repressive political contexts and forced corporatism, followed a second phase of economic liberalization ("development") within a similarly repressive context. After the transition to democracy, competitiveness and liberalization became the model of an economy that sought integration into the EEC, within a tripartite neo-corporatist pact between capitalists, unions and the state. Promises of a European future of plenty were premised on cutting the overcapacity of the heavy industries, making redundancy and early retirement the trade-off of future competitiveness. The paper will analyze labor solidarity and mobilization by exploring 1) the effects of different models and policies, 2) future expectations of social wellbeing and 3) practical capabilities of organization.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.