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The Decentralization of Manufacturing Employment and the Role of Race: The Case of the Lakeside Press

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Abstract:

This article presents an in-depth case study of an inner city manufacturing facility, known as the Lakeside Press, which closed in 1993. It seeks to understand the relationship between the decentralization of jobs in the post-industrial era and race through the consideration of one firm's experience as told by the company's workers. The basic question this article attempts to answer is what caused the outmigration of manufacturing facilities and jobs from inner city neighborhoods? What emerges from the experiences of this one firm is that the commercial arts printing industry had been undergoing technological innovation since the 1930s, and increased global competition since the Second World War. As southern blacks migrated north in search of jobs, this firm began to experience changes in the racial and ethnic composition of its workforce, as well as changes in the racial and ethnic composition of the firm's neighborhood. However, workforce integration in this central city manufacturing firm accompanied a de-facto separation of races within the workplace. Typically, blacks and other non-whites were relegated to unskilled positions within the firm where the chances for promotion were virtually non-existent. This system of racial subordination was not challenged formally until the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. The passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, combined with the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King and the race riots of the late-1960s, acted to undermine the informal organization of racial subordination within the Lakeside Press. The real and perceived costs of managing this transition in race relations, within the context of rapid technological change and global competition, appear to be linked to corporate decision making that would prompt the gradual decline of this inner city facility and the eventual elimination of over 7,000 jobs.

Document Type: Original Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/0735-2166.00083

Affiliations: Indiana University

Publication date: June 1, 2001

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