Edited by Giacomo Becattini, Marco Bellandi and Lisa De Propis
SECTION 3: A MEETING GROUND FOR THE SOCIAL SCIENCES
SECTION 3 A meeting ground for the social sciences Introduction Carlo Trigilia 1. Political economy and IDs: a complex relation Between the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1990s, the ‘rediscovery of the district’ has provided a meeting ground for different disciplines of the social sciences, with the investigations on Italian industrial districts (IDs) being the primary laboratory. Italy is the country where IDs first reemerged in that period, featuring massively in the industrial landscape of many of her regions, particularly the central and northern ones. Even if their local roots were deep in their historical past, IDs quickly appeared as a ‘modern and vital’ form of economic and social organisation, rather than a residual heritage of the past. Not surprisingly the research on IDs has been rich in Italian contributions from the beginning, but quite soon authors from other countries and with various disciplinary backgrounds started to contribute too, more or less directly, as this Handbook testifies. The pioneering contributions came from two economists, Giacomo Becattini and Sebastiano Brusco. Following different but overlapping trajectories of research, they raised interest in the ‘strange’ development of Italian IDs, first in their country and then at the international level with the first English translations of their works. This international interest was then amplified and diffused in various academic and non-academic quarters by the well-known work of Michael Piore and Charles Sabel on the Second Industrial Divide, developed along institutionalist economic lines of analysis, and strongly influenced in its references...
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