One of the most important consequences of post-Fordist global restructuring has been the "deterritorialization" of capital and its increasing geographic expansion. It is becoming more apparent that capitalist enterprises are able to move effortlessly across national borders and to relocate their manufacturing processes in areas that may offer more promising profit opportunities. In a famous and oft-quoted passage of David Harvey's Condition of Postmodernity it is argued that the transition from Fordism to flexible accumulation has been accelerated by an unprecedented trend of time-space compression in capitalist political economy, allowing a faster absorption of overaccumulation of capital, commodities, and labor both through geographic relocation of production and through the acceleration of turnover time: "the speed with which money outlays return profit to the investor" (1989:182). There is, of course, another and quite different view that comes from the literature on industrial districts and regional economies. This view emphasizes the fact that capitalist activity can be organized by means of localized or territorially based systems of specialized production (Storper 1995). These systems are characterized by the presence of clusters of interconnected small-scale factories and artisanal firms supported by active local governments. They provide an institutional framework that creates and fosters the conditions for retaining this kind of economic configuration. It is such "territorialization" (or regionalization) of economic development 99 that has successfully turned specific areas-for example, those situated in the so-called Third Italy, in Germany (Baden- Wurttemberg), in France and in Spain-into regions of specialized economic activities organized on the basis of subcontracting relations among small units of production. More importantly, the seeming economic achievement of these areas has become a blueprint for economic development, a model to reproduce across Europe. In fact, this newly "discovered" economic regionalism among scholars has in turn been incorporated into the political economic discourse of European Union (EU) officials and politicians who see in this model a potential solution to the problem of developing lagging areas, through mobilization of, and reliance on, local resources (Amin 1999). Incidentally, this framework inevitably influences how European-funding procedures are designed and how policy-making strategies are implemented in less developed regions of Europe (see the chapters by A. Smith and G. Smith and Narotzky, in this volume). In this chapter I demonstrate how these two discourses are not mutually exclusive. Industrial districts are not immune from deterritorialization, nor should their economic achievement gloss over emerging local level problems produced by stiffer global competition. These two aspects become apparent as I examine the local discourse among petty capitalists within an industrial district of the Brianza in Lombardy, northern Italy. After a discussion of the origin and characteristics of this regional economy-hit by periodic economic crises and industrial restructuring-I will use ethnographic examples to illustrate how innovation and competitiveness within and outside this industrial district masks forms of exploitation and contradictions among petty capitalists. In discursive terms exploitation is articulated in various sublimated ways, but two in particular are recurrent in the narratives of petty capitalists. One is the ideology of "hard work" and the other, more recent, is the ideology of "high-quality product." In the concluding section I stress that these two discourses should be viewed as responses to concerns regarding the possible deterritorialization of some factories and increasing competition in cross-boundary markets. © 2005 State University of New York. All rights reserved.

Ghezzi, S. (2005). Global market and Local Concerns. Petty Capitalists in the Brianza. In A. Smart, J. Smart (a cura di), Petty Capitalists and Globalization: Flexibility, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Development (pp. 99-119). Albany - New York : SUNY - State University of New York Press.

Global market and Local Concerns. Petty Capitalists in the Brianza

GHEZZI, SIMONE
2005

Abstract

One of the most important consequences of post-Fordist global restructuring has been the "deterritorialization" of capital and its increasing geographic expansion. It is becoming more apparent that capitalist enterprises are able to move effortlessly across national borders and to relocate their manufacturing processes in areas that may offer more promising profit opportunities. In a famous and oft-quoted passage of David Harvey's Condition of Postmodernity it is argued that the transition from Fordism to flexible accumulation has been accelerated by an unprecedented trend of time-space compression in capitalist political economy, allowing a faster absorption of overaccumulation of capital, commodities, and labor both through geographic relocation of production and through the acceleration of turnover time: "the speed with which money outlays return profit to the investor" (1989:182). There is, of course, another and quite different view that comes from the literature on industrial districts and regional economies. This view emphasizes the fact that capitalist activity can be organized by means of localized or territorially based systems of specialized production (Storper 1995). These systems are characterized by the presence of clusters of interconnected small-scale factories and artisanal firms supported by active local governments. They provide an institutional framework that creates and fosters the conditions for retaining this kind of economic configuration. It is such "territorialization" (or regionalization) of economic development 99 that has successfully turned specific areas-for example, those situated in the so-called Third Italy, in Germany (Baden- Wurttemberg), in France and in Spain-into regions of specialized economic activities organized on the basis of subcontracting relations among small units of production. More importantly, the seeming economic achievement of these areas has become a blueprint for economic development, a model to reproduce across Europe. In fact, this newly "discovered" economic regionalism among scholars has in turn been incorporated into the political economic discourse of European Union (EU) officials and politicians who see in this model a potential solution to the problem of developing lagging areas, through mobilization of, and reliance on, local resources (Amin 1999). Incidentally, this framework inevitably influences how European-funding procedures are designed and how policy-making strategies are implemented in less developed regions of Europe (see the chapters by A. Smith and G. Smith and Narotzky, in this volume). In this chapter I demonstrate how these two discourses are not mutually exclusive. Industrial districts are not immune from deterritorialization, nor should their economic achievement gloss over emerging local level problems produced by stiffer global competition. These two aspects become apparent as I examine the local discourse among petty capitalists within an industrial district of the Brianza in Lombardy, northern Italy. After a discussion of the origin and characteristics of this regional economy-hit by periodic economic crises and industrial restructuring-I will use ethnographic examples to illustrate how innovation and competitiveness within and outside this industrial district masks forms of exploitation and contradictions among petty capitalists. In discursive terms exploitation is articulated in various sublimated ways, but two in particular are recurrent in the narratives of petty capitalists. One is the ideology of "hard work" and the other, more recent, is the ideology of "high-quality product." In the concluding section I stress that these two discourses should be viewed as responses to concerns regarding the possible deterritorialization of some factories and increasing competition in cross-boundary markets. © 2005 State University of New York. All rights reserved.
Capitolo o saggio
petty capitalism; entrepreneurship; capitalism; informal economy; exploitation; family firm; Brianza
English
Petty Capitalists and Globalization: Flexibility, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Development
0-7914-6399-0
Ghezzi, S. (2005). Global market and Local Concerns. Petty Capitalists in the Brianza. In A. Smart, J. Smart (a cura di), Petty Capitalists and Globalization: Flexibility, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Development (pp. 99-119). Albany - New York : SUNY - State University of New York Press.
Ghezzi, S
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10281/5260
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