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Opening the black box: Space, Time and the Geography of the Labor Process

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Opening the Black Box Space, Time and the Geography of the Labor Process Presentation to Geography Seminar What’s Space Got to Do With It? Making Geography Relevant in the 21 st Century September 21, 2011 Chris Benner University of California, Davis [email protected]
  • 1. Opening the Black BoxSpace, Time and the Geography of the Labor Process
    Presentation to Geography Seminar
    Whats Space Got to Do With It?
    Making Geography Relevant in the 21st Century
    September 21, 2011
    Chris Benner
    University of California, Davis
    [email protected]

2. Outline
The Job Crisis
Geography to the rescue!?!
Towards a new social compact?
3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Typical proposed solutions
8. 9. 10. 11. 12. Walt, Carmen De Navas, Bernadette Proctor and Jessica Smith (2011) Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States:2010, p60-239, Current Population Reports, Consumer Income(U.S. Census Bureau), http://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/p60-239.pdf
13. 14. 15. 16. 17. http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2011/01/art3full.pdf
18. 19. 20. Pittsburgh steel work in the 1950s
Steel-production, material transformation
Work, job, career and generational stability
Single employer largely controlled labor process
Unionclear role in negotiating work and employment conditions
21. Silicon Valley in the 1990s
Information transformation
87% of all job growth 1990-2001 in firms that didnt exist in 1990.
In driving industry clusters, newly established firms accounted for 260,000 new jobs, while firms that existed in 1990 lost 120,000
Top 100 half-life of about 7 years.
Median job tenure: 30 months,
Market-mediated employability management; networked production
22. ISP Customer Service in 2006
Information Processing
Agents in South Africa, interacting with internet service provider customers across the U.S.
Five corporate employers in two countries
SA Computer Company
2 different temporary help firms
1 joint venture legal employer
Labor process driven by real-time benchmarking across at least 6 more companies and 4 countries
0 1,500 0 in 3 years
23. Rethinking economic institutions
Geographic analysis of informational cities & economies
Networked infrastructures, technological mobilities and splintering urbanism
Corporations legal entities and flexible platforms for organizing temporary production systems
Networks and value chains
Clusters, relational assets, untraded interdependencies, communities of practice
Networked spatial processes and evolution over time are key!
Geographical analysis of informational labor process ?
24. Labor process
25. SWET-Dimensions of labor process
26. SPACE (of labor process)

  • Def:Material support for time-sharing social practices.(Territorial and tele-mediated)

Industrial economy
Territorially based
Consistent & coherent institutional governance
Informational economy
Tele-mediated space & territorial space
Network based
Inconsistent and multiple institutional governance
27. WORK

  • Def: Actual activities people do at work, including skills, information, knowledge, tools, technology, and social relations.

Industrial economy
Predictability and stability in work demands
Incremental changes in human capacities required for work
Productivity of material manipulation critical for success
Informational economy
Structural volatility and unpredictability in work demands
Rapid and discontinuous change in requirements for work
Human reflexivity (innovation) critical for competitive success

  • Def: Relationship between employer and employee including compensation and management systems

Industrial economy
Standard employment
Long-term, full-time, year round, one-to-one
Taylorist management
Informational economy
Individualization of employment
Mediated employment
Mediated and self-directed management
29. TIME (of labor process)

  • Def: Temporal dimensions of human activity and social relations in the labor process (events, sequence, speed, cycles).

Industrial economy
Economic time shaped by continuous, relatively predictable growth trajectories and cyclical downturns
Institutional framework enabled separation between work/non-work times, and human-time enabling labor processes
Informational economy
Economic time shaped by lumpy, discontinuous, unpredictable, FAST and volatile production cycles
Career trajectories more multi-institutional and discontinuous
Work/non-work times increasingly blurred
30. Analyzing the labor process
Infrastructure, Regulation and Enforcement
Dynamics of
& Cooperation
Dynamics of
& Cooperation
(Race, Class
Gender, Age,
Labor Process
Labor Market Intermediaries
31. SWET Analysis of Labor Process
Silicon Valley and Milwaukee labor markets
Quality of intermediaries in career outcomes
Guilds as soft-infrastructure in innovation
Regional leadership and governance
South Africa tele-mediated work
Industry strategy versus job attraction
Career ladders and upgrading
U.S. newspaper journalists and sales staff
Disconnection between quality and revenue
Hierarchical management and stagnation
Transferable skills and associate membership
32. Job Crisis solution?
The old social compact
Workplace compromisework control versus employment stability
Nationalist Keynesianismlabor stability and macro-economic demand
New social compact?
Must ensure economic growth and social stability
Must solve dilemmas of multiple stakeholders
Likely to emerge out of existing experimental initiatives
33. Globalized regions as the new workplace
Important spatial dimension of critical labor process activities
Lifelong learning and innovation
Untraded inter-dependencies
Production and social reproduction
U.S. metros: 84% of population, 91% of GDP
Regional innovation systemsaround the globe
34. Workplace (regional) governance
Employer associations shaping collective work processes
Innovation systems
Social and physical infrastructure investment
Quality of life initiatives/creative class
Some public sector engagement
Public/private partnerships
Governance collaboration
35. Regional worker organizations

  • Guild-like structures:

36. Building stability through regional, occupationally-based communities 37. Improving employment outcomes through building common mobility channels Building power in the regional labor market, in both formal and informal ways
Face serious challenges in reaching truly disadvantaged workers
Limited power and bargaining ability
38. Regional worker organizations
Regional unionismSBCLC/Working Partnerships
Community/social movement unionism focused on region
Social reproduction
Health Care
Public Investment
Labor Community Leadership Institute
Boards, commissions, elected officials
Agenda, not individuals
39. Regional worker organizations
Many other examples around the country
LAANE Building a City of Justice
Georgia STAND-UP

40. Regional worker organizations
Community unionism and workers centers
Community-based and community-led organizations that engage in a combination of service, advocacy, and organizing to provide support to low-wage workers.
41. New employment policies and practices?
Stock-options and residuals
Individual wage versus social wage
Problems of socialized work and individualized employment
Need to focus on livelihoods, not jobs
Single-payer universal health
Pension reform
Life-long learninge.g. LILAs
Skills mismatch or institutional failure?
Re-employment insurance
Restructure UI
42. Whats space got to do with it?
The notion of a job is an a-spatial, static conception that hinders our ability to promote economic innovation or social well-being
Spatio-temporal analysis pushes us instead to think about promoting community-based careers in the regional workplace, with win-win-win opportunities
43. Thank you!!