Jamie Gough Work, Locality and the Rhythms of Capital: The Labour Process Reconsidered, Continuum: New York, 2003; 326 pp: 0826462847, $178.95 (hbk)
Economic geography's engagement with Marxism has been a chequered one. Despite a promising beginning in the late-1970s and the important theoretical contributions of David Harvey in reading Marx geographically, since the mid-1980s there has been a steady decline in economic geography's interest in Marxism. This reflects both seemingly unresolved problems in Marxian analysis and the rise of more institutional and post-structural perspectives. For many economic geographers, the utility of Marxism to explain more micro or local-scale variegation is in doubt, and these include Storper (2001:158), who dismisses Marxism for 'never [having] been able to go beyond large-scale descriptions to cause-and-effect analyses of the detailed internal dynamics of capitalism'.
It is refreshing, then, to find that Jamie Gough's Work, Locality and the Rhythms of Capital: The Labour Process Reconsidered represents a robust defense of Marx and Marxist research which will be of great interest both within geography and the social sciences. Most notably, Gough deploys labour process theory to examine the restructuring of London manufacturing between 1976 and 1982. Using a longitudinal survey of London manufacturing firms, he examines the critical period in which the post-war crisis of British manufacturing reached its climax. One of Gough's goals is to illustrate the dynamics of this restructuring in terms of in situ change and firm relocation. Gough uses his analysis to explore the insights of Marxist theory, especially regarding the labour process.
Recent debates on restructuring and social change have largely by-passed the labour process which was the object of intense theorising in the 1970s and 1980s. However, Gough reinvigorates this concept not by revisiting the narrow and often fruitless discussions of whether labour control and deskilling are the principal features of the capitalist labour process, but as a critical lens to account for both the fragmented and collective nature of the working class under capitalism. While post-structural and other non-Marxian frameworks have emphasised difference, they rely on non-work identities and have either not viewed the labour process as significant in the creation of difference, and/ or have not seen its possibilities in overcoming this between workers. One of the strengths of...