A Handbook of Industrial Districts
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A Handbook of Industrial Districts

Edited by Giacomo Becattini, Marco Bellandi and Lisa De Propis

In this comprehensive original reference work, the editors have brought together an unrivalled group of distinguished scholars and practitioners to comment on the historical and contemporary role of industrial districts (IDs).
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Chapter 1: The Genesis of a Hybrid: Early Industrial Districts between Craft Culture and Factory Training

Carlo Marco Belfanti


Carlo Marco Belfanti 1. Introduction The genesis of industrial districts (IDs) is a process marked by a multiplicity of evolutionary paths, in which according to the experience, diverse factors have played a decisive role. The element which seems common to the evoluion of t the majority of the IDs, if not to all, is the combination of the persistence of tra ition and elements of modernity, with a social organisation permeated by d consolidated values and an economic dynamic attentive to market challenges. All the scholars who have dealt with the question have underlined the coexis tence of these apparently contrasting characteristics which have made of the ID an economic and social formation of an amphiban nature, still torn between i fidelity to its own roots and the attraction exercised by modernity. The ID as a hybrid is the main theme of this chapter which is divided into three sections. Section 2 takes into consideration those paths where significant sedimentation of tradition can been recognised as if it were in the district’s DNA, which often matches an identity constructed around the craftsmanship of trade. On the other hand, Section 3 examines those dynamics which take their form from the experience of working in factories. Finally, Section 4 proposes a synthesising reflection. 2. The legacy of the past Sabel and Zeitlin (1985) were the first to focus on a model of industrial development alternative to that based on the factory and on mass production; a model instead based on the craftsman’s...

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