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Multiple Trajectories: A Critique of Industrial Restructuring and the New Institutionalism

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This article argues that the agrarian studies literature sheds new light on the multiple,nonlinear trajectories of capitalist development occurring in the context of accelerating global integration. Cast in relation to classical political economy, work on agrarian change is centrally concerned with multiple paths of agrarian transformation. It attends both to historically specificforms of social property relations and to the ways that struggles over resources and labor are simultaneously struggles over culturally constructed meanings, definitions, and identities. Accordingly, it goes well beyond the “new institutionalism” that figures prominently in the literature on industrial restructuring. The article draws on recent research in globally linked industrial districts in former bantustan areas of South Africa to illustrate thecontemporary and continuing salience of agrarian histories and concepts. It also suggests how attention to multiple trajectories of sociospatial change can be used to challenge the neoliberal orthodoxy taking hold in post-apartheid South Africa.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California

Publication date: October 1, 1998


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