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Concepts in Social and Spatial Marginality

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The purpose of this paper is to present a conceptual taxonomy of marginality resulting from two counterposed structural conditions within laissez-faire on the one hand and controlled markets on the other. Marginality is a complex condition of disadvantage that individuals and communities may experience because of vulnerabilities which may arise from unequal or inequitable environmental, ethnic, cultural, social, political and economic factors. A typology of marginality is based on two primary and two derivative forms. The primary forms are contingent and systemic. The derivative forms are collateral and lever-aged. Contingent marginality is a condition that results from competitive inequality in which individuals and communities are put at a disadvantage because of the dynamics of the free market whose uncertain and stochastic outcomes affect them adversely. Systemic marginality is a socioeconomic condition of disadvantage created by socially constructed inequitable non-market forces of bias. Collateral marginality is a condition experienced by individuals or communities who are marginalized solely on the basis of their social and/or geographic proximity to individuals or communities that experience either contingent or systemic marginality. Lever-aged marginality is a contingent or systemic disadvantage that people/communities are made to experience when their bargaining position in free markets is weakened by dominant stakeholders like transnational corporations which are able to leverage lucrative concessions by using the threat of alternative, often cheaper and marginalized (contingent or systemic) labour pools to which they can potentially take their business.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography, Michigan State University, 314 Natural Science Building, USA

Publication date: 2000-08-01

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