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labour geography

  An emerging subdiscipline of geography which researches the ways in which broadly political struggles by labour, organized and disorganized, has helped to sculpt the geographical landscape.

Two sources of inspiration led to the development of a labour geography. First, political geography has traditionally been unconcerned with questions of labour while economic geography has tended to examine either the geography \'of\' labour — a description of the geographical distribution of different kinds of labour — or to include labour as a factor of production. Marxist analyses went further, insisting that labour was an active agent in the making of economic landscapes, but the overwhelming concern lay with the movements of capital and tended to treat labour as subordinate (Herod, 1997).

Labour geography is centrally concerned with questions of scale insofar as the geographical results of labour struggles are not only visible at specific scales but contribute to the moulding and remoulding of specific scales (Herod, 1991; Johns, 1994). Thus labour geography arguably provides a sharper sense than a capital-centred economic geography of the ways in which the geographical differentiation of the economic landscape takes place. While focusing on political struggles, labour geography has developed a broader purview that involves social and cultural as well as political perspectives (Mitchell, 1996; Herod, 1998). (NS)

References Herod, A. 1991: The production of scale in United States labour relations, Area 23: 82-8. Herod, A. 1997: From a geography of labour to a labour geography: labour\'s spatial fix and the geography of capitalism. Antipode 29: 1-31. Herod, A., ed., 1998: Organizing the landscape. Geographical perspectives on labour unionism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press; Johns, R. 1994: International solidarity: space and class in the US labor movement. Ph.D. dissertation, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ. Mitchell, D. 1996. The lie of the land. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Suggested Reading Herod (1998).



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