Labour, Migration and the Spatial Fix: Evidence from the UK Food Industry

Scott, Sam ORCID: 0000-0002-5951-4749 (2013) Labour, Migration and the Spatial Fix: Evidence from the UK Food Industry. Antipode. pp. 1-20. doi:10.1111/anti.12023

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The paper argues that David Harvey's (1981) concept of the “spatial fix” (Antipode 13(3):1–12) can help us to understand contemporary labour migration. According to Harvey, the spatial fix is a response by capital to periodic crises that may involve both ex situ (finding new markets and production sites) and in situ solutions (importing and/ or improving labour). Drawing on experiences in the UK food industry, via 37 employer interviews, I show that in situ restructuring has become hegemonic and that an associated “good migrant worker” rhetoric has emerged. This rhetoric has two dimensions. Most obviously, low-wage employers stress the apparently superior hard and soft skills of migrants. Some, however, also link low-wage immigration to a purposeful shift in power from labour to capital. In both respects, migration functions as a regulatory project and “spatial fix”, and employers' “need” for migrant labour is primarily about maximising labour power in downgraded jobs more than about absolute labour shortages.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Labour; Geography; Migration; Regulation; Spatial fix
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Education and Science
Research Priority Areas: Place, Environment and Community
Depositing User: Sam Scott
Date Deposited: 03 Feb 2015 10:28
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 08:59

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