Start Geo Dictionary | Overview | Topics | Groups | Categories | Bookmark this page.
geology dictionary - geography encyclopedia  
Full text search :        
   A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z   #   




  Change(s) in and/or between the constituent parts of a circuit of social reproduction emanating from the dynamics of the circuit itself or from contradictions and crises within it.

Such changes may represent a response to changed conditions induced, for example, by time-space compression, technical change, conflicts between labour and capital in the workplace or transmitted through the competitive conditions endemic to capitalism. The inherently competitive social relations of capitalism generate a permanent tendency to transformation or restructuring but the term has come to be more widely used since the end of the long boom in the late 1960s and early 1970s (see crisis; modernity). For some it is a process closely associated with the transition from one Kondratieff cycle to another or from one regime of accumulation to another or with the speed of the circulation of capital and the increasing globalization of the world economic geography.

As such, restructuring may be thought to be synonymous with development (Streeten, 1987), or at least with certain forms of development. But it goes beyond that. Thus Laurence Harris (1988, p. 10) points out that although there is \'no easy, obvious way to distinguish structural from other changes in the abstract … some periods seem to see greater and more significant shifts than others\'. He identifies four such periods in the UK since the early nineteenth century: the 1830s and 1840s; the 1880s and 1890s; the 1930s and 1940s; and the 1970s and 1980s. But what marks these out as periods of restructuring? Apart from certain specific and system-wide components of changes (e.g. those identified by Harris, pp. 11-14), restructuring involves not just quantitative change but pronounced qualitative transformations of the ways in which consumption, production and exchange take place and relate to each other. Furthermore, as a set of essentially qualitative changes operating on the circuit of social reproduction, restructuring necessarily involves transformations of the conditions in which such circuits create and find their conditions of existence.

At an extreme of structural change such as occurred in the transformation of the former state-socialist societies during the late 1980s, the social relations through which the dynamic, direction and mode of evaluation of social reproduction are shaped are themselves transformed and the circuit of social reproduction comes to operate on completely different principles often associated with profound economic disruption and profound social pathologies. The parallels between perestroika in the former Soviet Union during the middle 1980s and capitalist restructuring are marked:

Perestroika is inevitable when existing economic conditions do not respond to … the needs of development of society and the demands of the future. Here it is necessary to change the economic system, to transform and renew it fundamentally. For this transformation restructuring is necessary not just of individual aspects and elements, but of the whole economic system. (Anganbegyan, 1988, p. 6)This strategy for development — fatefully for Soviet socialism — presumed uskorenie, an acceleration of economic growth, and glasnost, or openness, to be achieved by the spread of democracy and local self-management.

The more insidious, continuous and widespread social and political consequences of restructuring driven by the imposition of capitalist social relations and the norms, directions and criteria of evaluation that go with them within the Third World are dramatically illustrated in Michael Watts\'s (1992/1996) harrowing account of \'fast capitalism\' and the exploitation of petroleum in Nigeria.

Less dramatic but still profound changes may occur within the dynamics of particular forms of social reproduction such as capitalism (e.g. Harris, 1988). Manuel Castells (1989, pp. 21-8) suggests that certain transformations of the capitalist mode of production on a global scale during the twentieth century are structural in form. Certainly, they serve to exemplify the point that restructuring is qualitative as well as merely quantitative. The Great Depression of the late 1920s and early 1930s and the associated disruption of the Second World War \'triggered a restructuring process that led to a new form of capitalism very different from the laissez-faire model of the pre-Depression era\' (p. 21). The new model relied on restructured relations between capital and labour whereby stability in capitalist production was exchanged by the recognition of union rights, rising wages and the development of welfare states; Keynesian regulation and intervention in circuits of capital articulated primarily at the national scale; and the creation of a new set of international regulatory institutions around the International Monetary Fund underwritten by the power of the economy of the USA.

The limits of this model manifest, for example, in rampant inflation, increases in returns to labour and fiscal crises of the state, were formative influences (for an attempt to assess the articulation of these formative processes see Yergin and Stanislaw, 1998) on the creation and imposition of a restructured model of the circuit of capital involving the appropriation of an increased share of the surplus by capital based around increases in productivity, changes in the labour process and restructuring of labour markets in terms of: deregulation and reductions in the power of trades unions; a shift in the role of states from intervention to facilitation of capital accumulation; and further deregulation and opening up of local and national spaces to global competitive processes — not least through the increasing significance of globally sensitive and active spheres of reproduction (see economic geography) acting through global financial centres.

Restructuring may involve one or more of a number of transformations:

{img src=show_image.php?name=2022.gif } structural adjustment, which Streeten (1987, p. 1469) defines as \'adaptation to sudden or large, often unexpected changes\' to an economic geography. Such changes may, however, be forced by powerful institutions like the World Bank in, for example, making AID dependent on profound changes in macro-economic policy. Structural adjustment programmes have been designed to open up underdeveloped economies to the global economic geography in order to maximize their potential for development. In this sense they may be viewed as a means through which the social relations of capitalism may be spread through the underdeveloped world in ways which make them secure for the future by insisting, for example, on {img src=show_image.php?name=2022.gif } transformations in the modes of coordination and exchange within circuits of social reproduction (by, for example, opening up economies to the pressures of market forces and international competition) with the objective of removing local rigidities and reducing vulnerability to shock through means such as increasing the flexibility of markets, the provision of productive infrastructure and the development of institutions orientated to export markets; {img src=show_image.php?name=2022.gif } switches of capital between forms of investment (direct/indirect), sphere of circulation of capital (reproduction/production/ realization — see economic geography) and sector (e.g. deindustrialization); {img src=show_image.php?name=2022.gif } geographical switches of capital (here/there — see layers of investment; new international division of labour; uneven development). Such changes clearly have substantial implications for the uneven development of places (re/dis)incorporated from circuits of capital (see Allen and Massey, 1988; Allen et al., 1998).More narrowly, the restructuring of production (e.g. Graham et al., 1988) may have significant consequences well beyond production itself:

{img src=show_image.php?name=2022.gif } changes in the process of production as a consequence of economies of scale, the concentration of centralized capital (see Marxian economics) or transitions from one regime of accumulation to another (see Regulation school); {img src=show_image.php?name=2022.gif } changes in the organization of production along the production chain (see Dicken, 1998, ch. 1); {img src=show_image.php?name=2022.gif } changes in corporate organization — such as those associated with forms of integration within production, multidivisional organization and decentralization in the attempt to combine corporate size whilst maximizing entrepreneurial initiative within the organization; {img src=show_image.php?name=2022.gif } the development of tasking flexibility in production, based, for example, upon economies of scope or temporal flexibility resulting from just-in-time forms of supply along the production chain; {img src=show_image.php?name=2022.gif } a redefinition of a firm\'s core activities so redefining its sphere of activities, with profound implications for the size and status of its labour force; {img src=show_image.php?name=2022.gif } a repositioning of the firm along the production chain to deal with downstream service functions; {img src=show_image.php?name=2022.gif } a geographical reconfiguration to redefine the role and functioning of individual productive units; and {img src=show_image.php?name=2022.gif } an organizational restructuring involving a redefinition of the firm\'s internal and external boundaries.The restructuring of production in these ways has implications for, or may be undertaken through, changes in the labour process or the division of labour, but it relates to wider processes of change within which labour is necessarily caught up and over which it has less direct influence than changes in the immediate conditions of work.

Although restructuring is a term applied mainly to economic transformation and is frequently driven by and is obviously manifest in the activities of individual firms and capitals, it cannot be restricted to the economic sphere. It involves, and so is predicated upon, responsiveness elsewhere in society. Nor is restructuring reducible merely to economic dynamics. It frequently requires the support and/or restructuring of the state or, as in the case of perestroika or the market-based restructuring around the discourses of monetarism in the US (\'Reaganomics\') and, to a more dramatic extent, the UK(\'Thatcherism\') or New Zealand (\'Rogernomics\') social formations, is driven by the transformation of regulatory practices instituted by the state and so generates a range of ideological and political relationships and struggles (see, for example, Walker 1997). (RL)

References Aganbegyan, A. 1988: The challenge: economics of perestroika. London: Hutchinson. Allen, J. and Massey, D. 1988: The economy in question. London and Newbury Park, CA: Sage. Allen, J., Massey, D., Cochrane, A. et al. 1998: Rethinking the region; spaces of neo-liberalism. London: Routledge. Castells, M. 1989: The informational city. Oxford and Cambridge, MA: Blackwell. Dicken, P. 1998: Global shift: transforming the world economy, 3rd edn. London: Paul Chapman Publishing. Graham, J., Gibson, K., Horvath, R. and Shakow, D. 1988: Restructuring in US manufacturing: the decline of monopoly capitalism. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 78: 473-90. Harris, L. 1988: The UK economy at the crossroads. In J. Allen and D. Massey, eds, The economy in question, ch. 1. London and Newbury Park, CA: Sage, Open University, 7-44. Streeten, P. 1987: Structural adjustment: a survey of the issues and options. World Development 15: 1469-82. Walker, R. 1997: California rages: regional capitalism and the politics of renewal. In R. Lee and J. Wills, eds, Geographies of economies, ch. 27. London and New York: Arnold, 345-56. Watts, M.J. 1992/1996: The shock of modernity: petroleum, protest, and fast capitalism in an industrializing society. In A. Pred and M.J. Watts, Reworking modernity: capitalisms and symbolic discontent, ch. 2. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 21-63; reprinted in S. Daniels and R. Lee, eds, Exploring human geography. London: Arnold, 120-52. Yergin, D. and Stanislaw, J. 1998: The commanding heights: the battle between government and the market place that is remaking the modern world. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Suggested Reading Allen, Massey, Cochrane et al. (1998). Castells (1989), ch. 1. Corbridge, S. 1995: Development studies: a reader. London and New York: Arnold, section 5. Walker (1997); Watts (1992/1996).



Bookmark this page:



<< former term
next term >>
resource management 2
retailing, geography of


Other Terms : primate city, the law of the | division of labour | central planning
Home |  Add new article  |  Your List |  Tools |  Become an Editor |  Tell a Friend |  Links |  Awards |  Testimonials |  Press |  News |  About
Copyright ©2009 GeoDZ. All rights reserved.  Terms of Use  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us