From a Geography of Labor to a Labor Geography: Labor's Spatial Fix and theGeography of Capitalism

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Abstract:

Mainstream neoclassical economic geography and its Marxist critique have largely failed to incorporate active conceptions of working class people in their explanations of the location of economic activities. Neoclassical approaches tend to conceive of workers simply as factors of location, whereas Marxist approaches primarily focus on how capital structures the economic landscape in its search for profit and frequently relegate labor to the status of “variable capital.” Both approaches present Geographies of Labor. They have not really examined how workers try to make industrial landscapes. In contrast, I argue that workers have an interest in how the economic geography of capitalism is made; consequently, they seek to impose what we might call “labor's spatial fix” and so play an active role in the unevenly developed geography of capitalism. Examining how workers try to develop their own spatial fixes allows us to incorporate a more active sense of workers as geographical agents into understandings of the production of space under capitalism. Recognizing that workers' efforts to create “labor's spatial fix” are significant allows us to theorize how workers attempt to make space as an integral part of their social existence (a Labor Geography) and so to write less capital‐oriented economic geographies.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-8330.00033

Affiliations: Department of Geography, University of Georgia, Athens, GA

Publication date: January 1, 1997

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