Guide Industrial Transition: New Global-Local Patterns of Production, Work, and Innovation

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Transition. New Global-Local Patterns of Production, Work, and Innovation, 1st Edition It appears we have entered a new era termed 'industrial transition'.
Table of contents

It appears we have entered a new era termed 'industrial transition'. This book forms the first approach toward conceptualising the term and compiling illustrative empirical underpinnings. Contributions by an international set of renowned economic geographers highlight the major features and case studies of 'industrial transition' and address various questions that matter for the future of our global economy: How are regions and localities affected by the shift of product mandates?

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In which ways do changes differ between industrial sectors and economic regions? How can regions and localities adequately prepare for or react to foreseeable changes; and how can regional resilience and response capacities be built and enhanced?


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Search all titles. Search all titles Search all collections. Your Account Logout. Industrial Transition. By Martina Fuchs. Edition 1st Edition. However, the success of manufacturing in the twentieth century has led to a loss of variety, in modes of transport, in clothing, in building design and in decoration.

It would be unhelpful to over-romanticize the craft-worker, whose output rate is low and could not match the industrialized economies of scale in providing essential goods to a large population. However, the fundamental challenge raised by Braverman's analysis is a recognition that human labour produces a surplus, and it is a societal choice how much surplus is beneficial and how it should be distributed. At present, the capitalist solution has become dominant to the point of being almost unquestioned in the developed economies.

Yet the polarization between the high satisfaction of those few who own capital and the degradation of the controlled many who do not is not the only possible societal organization. In pursuit of Industry 1. It is likely that some of these solutions could lead both to a reduced material demand and to an increased satisfaction for a majority of workers with jobs redesigned to have at least some of the integration inherent to craft work.

Aligning shareholder interest with workers interests, rather than the reverse alignment as often discussed, appears to be a fruitful area for new development. The efficiencies of the economies of scale must, therefore, be matched by marketing campaigns to induce new purchasing.

In contrast with Henry Ford's steady refinement of the Model-T, General Motors introduced the idea of a yearly model change in the s, and manufacturers have since looked for innovations in form and function so that no purchaser's needs would ever be sated.

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Once a worker has earned enough to purchase the goods required to meet some basic set of needs, they can be induced to continue working and purchasing, to replace the first set of goods with a newer set with more features or the latest style. Gutowski et al. Figure 3 is a representation of purchasing decisions arising from the papers in this special issue.

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The figure demonstrates how consumer perceptions of a product offering are filtered through several lenses before leading to a purchasing decision. The effect of each lens can be influenced by marketing activities away from what would have been the individual's more independent preference. It is these impulsive responses which are the target of marketing activities aiming to override considered judgement about needs, with a quick acting reflex. He defines these need-satisfiers as the goods, services, activities and relationships that contribute to need satisfaction in any particular context.

A representation of the insights into purchasing decisions revealed in this special issue. Most goods, with the exception of infrastructure, are discarded and replaced before they are broken following either changed user needs or the persuasive influence of marketing campaigns about the benefits of a newer form of the same goods. This allows analysis of the trade-off between maintaining or replacing goods and shows how innovations permeate through the total stock of goods in use. They find that office blocks and washing machines for example are typically replaced prematurely, whereas cars and planes tend to be kept beyond their environmentally optimal lifespans.

Cooper et al. However, despite the technical possibility of design and maintenance for longevity, marketing strategies are successful in persuading consumers to replace goods earlier than necessary, and as a result Roberts et al. The final lens in figure 3 describes a much broader category of perception along a spectrum from imagination to fantasy. This distinction, introduced in this volume by Davison [ 38 ], recognizes that no product exists independently of its associations and meaning.


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  • Studying Coleridge and Murdoch, Davison [ 38 ] proposes that scientific facts about climate change are received through acts of either imagination or fantasy and that subsequent actions depend on these perceptions. Figure 4 provides an illustration of this distinction between imagination and fantasy. The first image is an expression of imagination: the image bears little similarity to its target, but both to the creator at the time and to the recipient years later it carries a rich association of time, place, optimism and relationship.

    The viewer is given little space to add personal interpretation to the message that purchasing this particular perfume will make the wearer or giver more attractive to the other. This is a highly constructed message, strongly influenced by the manufacturer in the hope that the fantasy being offered in the image will attract sales. An independent assessment of the same product could only be made by smelling it in comparison with other offerings and making a selection based on the pleasure of the smell rather than the fantasy created by this and other images.

    Imagination and fantasy: a a representation of the first author by his son, aged 4 at the time, whose interpretation depends on the positive benefits of imagination; b an advertisement for perfume in [ 39 ] the contemporary equivalent would be more sexually explicit but have the same intent convening the fantasy that purchasing the perfume will influence the attractiveness of the giver or user to each other. Keynes' forecast has so far turned out to be wrong because, whether by human nature or whether by the insidious marketing campaigns of profit hungry manufacturers, the satisfaction of our basic needs turns out to be insufficiently satisfying.

    Instead we inherently are or we are induced to be competitive, seeking to raise ourselves in the ranking of our peers, and this drives us to continue working hard for more income to buy more goods. Figure 5 presents data related to this story for several developed economies. Working hours have fallen for all the selected countries over the period — although, with the exception of Japan, the rate of reduction has been lower since the millennium. Apparently, therefore, leisure hours have increased albeit by not as much as Keynes forecast.

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    However, these figures which are averaged over the number of people in employment need some careful interpretation. If services that were previously provided within households are now purchased in a market, they are potentially subject to the same degradation as other jobs controlled by capitalists, so less rewarding than previously. The reduced working hours per person in figure 5 , therefore, do not necessarily translate into an increase in leisure and duly there is evidence that many workers would prefer to trade some income for more leisure time.

    Working hours per person in employment for selected OECD countries, — [ 41 ]. One particular concern raised in the literature around working hours is whether those working for longer, and typically earning more as a result, then spend their increased income on higher impact consumption.

    Similar as yet tentative evidence [ 47 ] suggests that the household's environmental footprint increases with working hours and that longer working hours lead to more energy intensive, conspicuous expenditure, for example, on clothing, appliances, housing and travel [ 42 ].

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    Keynes' assumption that we would work less and instead focus on our best use of leisure proved to be wrong although with increased life expectancy we do enjoy increased leisure in longer retirement because we compete for social ranking by the purchasing made possible by increased income. We have, therefore, accepted commercial and policy frameworks predicated on targets of income growth and full employment. Yet this section has demonstrated that the pursuit of these targets is not necessarily guaranteed to achieve an optimum well-being, either in work or leisure.

    Other trajectories could be possible. For example, corporate directors today are legally required to take decisions that maximize the return to shareholders, that nurture each unit of capital to the maximum. An alternative legal framework in which directors were legally required to maximize the long-term welfare of their employees, would require a longer-term view of corporate health and broaden the management actions by which welfare could be promoted.

    The commoditized products created by the economies of scale in manufacturing and marketed with constructed fantasies create little if any emotional connection for their owners. The most efficient designs for production often connect inaccessible sealed modules within products. The cost of assembly has been reduced so effectively that for many products the costs of maintenance, repair or upgrade exceed the costs of disposal and replacement.

    Yet this impersonal disconnection is not the only possible relationship between people and products. Our museums and heritage buildings tell a different story, of intrinsic value in objects themselves, linked to the stories of how they were made, the context in which they were commissioned and the story of their use over time. On the one hand, Bodenhorn and Ulturgasheva emphasize the need for flexibility in adaptation and stress the need for lightweight, mobile, multi-purpose possessions.

    Quoting Briggs, they note the experimental engagement with the material world by Inuit communities who tend to ask not what a new material is for but instead to speculate about how else it might be used. On the other hand, they point to the material needs of the Eveny people whose Soviet-funded more permanent settlements are now both under-resourced and inadequate in their choice of materials to respond to conditions affected by Climate Change.

    Inevitably their experience becomes disappointing as the fantasy fails to deliver, so over time they compare its performance with newer offerings. They become disenchanted and purchase a replacement product long before the original has expired in the hope created by the next fantasy. They care for, maintain and keep using the original and build up positive imaginative associations with it, linked to a relationship with the product built over time. Their participation in using the product increases its value over time. Rather than comparing the product's performance with more recent offerings their experience is of growing heritage and meaning.

    Fletcher's evidence is found in garments and her book includes nearly stories of garments that over time have developed a personal significance for their users. The exploratory study suggests that the relative simplicity of the design draws users in, enticing those without previous mechanical experience to develop skills in repair and in time to modify and customize their vehicles. At present, however, the corporate influences of figure 3 generally pull individuals against any idea of usership.

    In contrast with this hypothetical optimism, Gutowski et al. However, the evidence of the preliminary study of the Land Rover Defender suggests that products could be designed to support and encourage user engagement. We cannot imagine discarding our heritage buildings, the treasures of our museums, or the unique objects passed to us from our grandparents, because as much as their design we recognize and appreciate the human endeavour that created them. The story conveyed by the repair, encompassing its life before and after damage, adds to its value.

    Signs of use or wear augment rather than diminish the bowl's aesthetic [ 55 ]. However, the economies of scale, which eliminate human expression in work simultaneously eliminate that sense of endeavour and lead to the production of goods with which we sense very little connection.

    Partly as a result of this Roberts et al. Xenos [ 56 ] presents an account of the history of austerity in the Western tradition. Opponents of this logic propose economic stimulus in pursuit of growth.

    Xenos argues that, in contrast with both the use of pro-austerity and anti-austerity within the current policy dialogue, a truly austere politics would require the abandonment of the shared logic of growth.