Handbook of Employment and Society
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Handbook of Employment and Society

Working Space

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Edited by Susan McGrath-Champ, Andrew Herod and Al Rainnie

This Handbook deepens and extends the engagement between research concerned with work and employment and labour geography. It links fundamental concepts concerning the politics of place that human geographers have developed in recent years with the world of work.
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Chapter 3: Creating Markets, Contesting Markets: Labour Internationalism and the European Common Transport Policy

Peter Turnbull

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3 Creating markets, contesting markets: labour internationalism and the European Common Transport Policy Peter Turnbull Introduction In the textbook world of neoclassical economics, markets appear as ‘natural’ phenomena. An infinite number of firms compete to produce goods or provide services, prices are determined by the ‘invisible hand’ of supply and demand, and there are no dominant players in the market. There are certainly no firms or other institutions that can ‘make the market’. Deviations from the competitive market are certainly recognised (for example, oligopoly, duopoly, monopoly and monopsony) but it is the ideal world of (perfect) competition that informs the neoliberal agenda and the seeming desire to emancipate the economic sphere in general, and markets in particular, from state control. In reality, of course, markets are neither ‘natural’ nor ‘self-correcting’. Rather, ‘[m]arkets are created by governments, ordered by institutions, and sustained by regulations . . . markets are social institutions governed by a set of rules, many of which are framed by the public authorities’ (Wilks, 1996, pp. 538–9). Social actors ‘play by the rules’ but also seek to change the rules to their own advantage. In particular, through the ‘social production of space’, capital, together with the state, seeks to construct material geographies that it can use to facilitate the extraction and realisation of surplus value. As Harvey (1982) demonstrates, capital must create particular ‘spatial fixes’ in the landscape at particular times to allow accumulation to proceed. Today, these spatial fixes extend well beyond the remit of the nation state....

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