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layers of investment

  The successive cycles of economic development in particular places or regions. The concept was first developed by Doreen Massey (1978) as a way of characterizing the changing spatial structure of the economy.

According to Massey (1984), \'the structure of local economies can be seen as a product of the combination of “layers”, of the successive imposition over the years of new rounds of investment, new forms of activity\'. With each successive round of investment, the local economy acquires a particular niche in a wider spatial division of labour: \'if a local economy can be analysed as the historical product of the combination of layers of activity, those layers also represent in turn the succession of roles the local economy has played within wider national and international spatial structures\'. Gregory (1989) has represented the process as a game of cards, in which regions are dealt different cards as a result of the operation of successive rounds of investment to make up a complete, and unique, \'hand\' (see the figure).

However, Massey does not see this sort of analysis as an exercise in structural determinism. Rather, the existing character of the area interacts with the new \'layer\' in a process of \'mutual determination\':

the internal necessity of a spatial structure does not get \'acted out\' in the real world in pure form. What takes place is the interrelation of the new spatial structure with the accumulated results of the old. The \'combination\' of layers, in other words, really does mean combination, with each side of the process affecting the other. (Massey, 1984, p. 121)In seeking to relate the operation of processes of capital accumulation to the evident areal differentiation of the space-economy, this approach to industrial geography was an explicit challenge to conventional location theory. Regional change is seen as part and parcel of wider processes of economic restructuring, but also the character of each region and locality is seen as stamping its own imprint on those processes.

Massey exemplifies her arguments by discussing the impact of new branch-plant investment on the coalfield areas of Britain. The decline of coal, steel and heavy engineering began to break down the existing social structures in these areas. The new factories provided new jobs in areas of high unemployment, but their branch-plant status made the security of employment questionable. Of particular significance was the recruitment of women to work in the factories, often for relatively low wages. The largely male-dominated character of the labour movement in these areas ensured that the new female workforces had little experience of trade-union militancy. These sorts of changes often involved quite deliberate spatial strategies within as well as between regions on the part of firms — as Morgan and Sayer (1985) have shown. (See also suburb.)

The causes of new phases of investment have been the subject of some debate. For Harvey (1985) they are a response to successive crises (see crisis) in the process of capital accumulation: a product of the \'spatial fix\' through which the built-up contradictions of the previous phase of capitalist development are temporarily resolved. Marshall (1987) suggests that they are the result of Kondratieff cycles, with each long wave producing a new pattern of uneven development (cf. regional alliance).

There has also been debate about the nature of the relationship between the layers. Warde (1985) called the idea of layers of investment \'an extended metaphor of the geology of social relations\' (p. 191) such that \'successive rounds of accumulation deposit layers of industrial sediment in geographical space\' (p. 196-7). This characterization of Massey\'s work quickly became known as the \'geological metaphor\' and subsequently it was often assumed that it was a metaphor that Massey herself had developed, or at least endorsed. In fact, as is made clear in the second edition of Spatial Divisions of Labour (Massey, 1995, pp. 320-2), in Massey\'s view the metaphor of geological sedimentation does not capture the process of layering of rounds of investment. She says that it \'reduces the fluidity, the relational nature, and the fundamental processes of mutual interaction [between layers] and moulding which I wanted to convey. Surely the notion of the combination of layers is very ungeological\'.

Massey\'s concept acted as a stimulus both to a wide range of empirical work in industrial geography and beyond and to considerable debate about the appropriate ways of conceptualizing regional and urban change. (See Environment and Planning A, 1989, for examples.) (JP)

{img src=show_image.php?name=bkhumgeofig36.gif }

layers of investment Phases of capital accumulation - translated into a game of cards (Gregory, 1989)

References Environment and Planning A 1989: Spatial Divisions of Labour in practice. Environment and Planning A 21: 655-700. Gregory, D. 1989: Areal differentiation and postmodern human geography. In D. Gregory and R. Walford, eds, Horizons in human geography. London: Macmillan, 67-96. Harvey, D. 1985: The geopolitics of capitalism. In D. Gregory and J. Urry, eds, Social relations and spatial structures. London: Macmillan, 128-63. Marshall, M. 1987: Long waves of regional development. London: Macmillan. Massey, D. 1978: Regionalism: some current issues. Capital and Class 6: 106-25. Massey, D. 1984: Spatial divisions of labour, 1st edn. London: Macmillan. Massey, D. 1995: Spatial divisions of labour, 2nd edn. London: Macmillan. Morgan, K. and Sayer, A. 1985:A\'modern\' industry in a mature region: the remaking of management-labour relations. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 9: 383-403. Warde, A. 1985: Spatial change, politics and the division of labour. In D. Gregory and J. Urry, eds, Social relations and spatial structures. London: Macmillan, 190-212.

Suggested Reading Environment and Planning A (1989). Gregory, D. (1989), 75-6. Massey, D. 1988: Uneven development: social change and spatial divisions of labour. In D. Massey and J. Allen, eds, Uneven development: cities and regions in transition. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 250-76. Massey (1995).



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