This chapter explores how different conceptualisations of time, space and the geographical scale at which social life is organised have implications for understanding the geography of capitalism and hence for political economy. With regard to time and space, a principle distinction is between absolute and relative conceptions thereof. Whereas the former sees both time and space simply as external structures within which social objects exist, in the latter both time and space are understood to be constituted by social actors’ praxis. In the case of geographical scale, some authors have drawn upon Kantian idealism to argue that the spatial resolutions into which the world is often divided – the urban, the regional, the national, the global and so forth – are merely mental constructs. Others, however, have drawn upon materialist philosophies to argue that they are socially produced, such that struggles to shape their form are important elements in political conflicts.
Andrew Herod and Rob Lambert
Rob Lambert and Andrew Herod
Ethnographies of Accommodation and Resistance
Edited by Rob Lambert and Andrew Herod
Andrew Herod, Graham Pickren, Al Rainnie and Susan McGrath-Champ
Contemporary capitalism produces huge quantities of commodities whose use value is frequently short-lived, often because capitalists’ need to secure profits involves the planned obsolescence of their products. Such waste, however, regularly contains valuable materials which can be retrieved and reused as inputs for new commodities. In this chapter, then, we explore the economic paths – what we call Global Destruction Networks (GDNs) – through which some of this waste travels as it is processed and its components recovered. In many ways, these GDNs are Other to the more familiar Global Production Networks (GPNs) in which commodities are first assembled, except that they involve the taking apart of discarded products. The chapter outlines three GDNs – those involving e-waste, shipping and vehicles – to argue that an important mechanism by which to connect the workings of GDNs with those of GPNs is through following the movement of value, conceptualised here in Marxian terms of congealed labour.