Deindustrialisation is a key element within the systems of

Deindustrialisation
is a key element within the systems of capitalism and globalisation in the United
Kingdom, historically it is seen as a negative process. This essay aims to look
at the process of deindustrialisation, the way in which it links to both
capitalism and globalisation, the impacts it has had on the UK and if anything
has been done to try and overcome the problems that it causes.

 

Firstly,
it is important to look at what the issue of deindustrialisation actually is
and the impacts it has within the UK. As deindustrialisation can be difficult
to define, for this paper, deindustrialisation refers to the diminishing
proportion of national production and labour forces within primary and
secondary industrial sectors, something which has happened across western
countries, although is controversial for the UK as it has also coincided with rapid
industrial decline (Scott, 2014). Whilst it is not exclusive to the UK this paper
will mainly focus on deindustrialisation in the UK using examples from other
countries only for comparison. Whilst deindustrialisation does not fit neatly
into categories within academia, it does cross boundaries between work, urban
and economic sociologies, and policy studies, enabling the process to be
examined in different ways. Initial research into this process suggested that
it was just an economic phenomenon of the dismantling of modern capitalist
industries within advanced industrial nations, focusing mainly on the number of
job losses, shifts in unemployment rates, changes in the employment sectors and
spatial distribution of industry and its loss (Strangleman, 2014). However, it
has since been proven that deindustrialisation marked a complete restructuring
of the economy, and in the UK a restructuring of social life and society itself
(Newman, 1985). There has only been an interest in the phenomena of
deindustrialisation within the last 20 years within the UK even though the
process has been occurring since the late 1950s, this is mainly due to an
increased awareness of social, cultural and political consequences, with the
impacts it had on working class households and working class areas who had to
overcome the difficulties associated with the process. However, this has
allowed a better understanding of social structures and action within society,
as the process of deindustrialisation has disrupted previously settled and
stable social patterns (Strangleman, 2014).

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Most
of the impacts of deindustrialisation are negative, the biggest impact is
structural unemployment, whilst many people who are employed in manufacturing
do become employed elsewhere, the process of finding another job is not always
a straightforward process and many people can be left without employment for
long amounts of time, particularly in areas where the economy was predominantly
supported by industry (Deindustrialization, 2017).Another major impact is
regional decline, within some towns and regions of the UK, the strain of
deindustrialisation is felt more acutely, the North-East of the UK with areas
such as Newcastle, between 1979 and 2011 the manufacturing sector, fell from
accounting for 30% of the UK economy to only 11% (Chakrabortty, 2011). Some of
the worst affected areas have started regeneration projects in order to try and
boost the economy within that area, this will be looked at in greater detail
later in this paper. Whilst deindustrialisation appears to be a mainly negative
process, it also has a few positives. First of all, the fact that
deindustrialisation is occurring demonstrates that earnings have risen within
the UK, as households are able to spend more on services. This is supported by
the Office for National Statistics (2013) as they have found that the middle
fifth of households in British society had a disposable income of £13,800 per
year in 1977, in comparison to 2011 where the middle fifth households had an
average disposable income of £24,400. This has increased again since the 2011 report,
with the middle fifth of households’ median disposable income being £26,300
(ONS, 2017), this therefore demonstrating that households with the UK now have
significantly higher incomes than 30 years ago. Deindustrialisation can also be
positive in that it increases job opportunities within the service sector,
service sector jobs can also be more beneficial in terms of health than
manufacturing jobs, particularly jobs such as mining where the inhalation from
breathing in coal dust could leave miners with health problems, in the period
January to March 1997 437,000 people were employed in manufacturing, with
103,200 employed in admin or support services (ONS, 2017). In the period
January to March 2017 290,100 people were employed in manufacturing, with
155,000 employed in admin support services (ONS, 2017). Although 1997 was after
the largest period of industrial decline in the UK, the figures show how the
process is ongoing, as over a 20-year period, the number of people employed in manufacturing
has continued to decline further whilst the number of people employed in
service industries has continually increased.

 

Globalisation
also holds has a key role in the process of deindustrialisation, it is
difficult to gain a solid definition of what globalisation actually is as it
varies contextually mainly due to widespread discourse and varied perspectives,
it is currently seen as being a ‘buzzword’ that has immense power (Money and
Evans, 2007). For the context of this paper globalisation is the process of
making every aspect of society global referring to ‘a process in which the
constraints of geography on social and cultural arrangements recede and in
which people are becoming increasingly aware that they are receding’ (Scott,
2014). However, there is much contention surrounding the process of
globalisation, with some sceptics arguing it does not actually occur, and the
economy is the same as it was 20 years ago (Arjomand, 2014). On the other hand, radicals argue
that we feel the consequences of globalisation everywhere, and evidence for the
process occurring is clear through deindustrialisation, the fact that the
global trade markets are more developed than ever before and have become
indifferent to national borders.  Whilst
the meaning of the notion is not overly clear, the thesis is one that we now
live in a global society, where almost everything has a global link, the extent
of globalisation can be seen in the increase of electronic communication and how
westernisation has spread outside of Europe (Giddens, 2002).

 

Although
it is not simple, globalisation’s involvement in deindustrialisation is best
explained through Therborn’s wave theory. Wave theory suggests that society so far
has experienced six waves of globalisation, with each wave being an
acceleration and intensification of global processes such as
deindustrialisation (Arjomand, 2014). The first wave was in the 4th century
and represents the making of world religions and the spread of culture, the
second wave from the 16th to early 17th century concerns
European Colonialism with the third wave being from 1750 – 1815 and concerning
the Franco-British war and the preceding rise of a European superpower
(Therborn, 2000). Whilst the first 3 waves were important in shaping history
and enabling future processes to occur, the last 3 waves are the most
significant to deindustrialisation as they were occurring at the same time as
both industrialisation and deindustrialisation. The 4th wave is
particularly key, from the early 19th century onwards it covers the
notion of generalised imperialism and therefore the development of
industrialisation and commodity trade, in Britain this refers to the industrial
revolution, where the British economy was boosted by the success of newly found
manufacturing industries (More, 1989). The 5th wave refers to the
globalisation of politics with the formation of groups such as the League of Nations
and later the formation of the United Nations. However, the most important to
deindustrialisation is the 6th wave, concerned with self-assured
globalisation and its shifting meanings, the introduction of electronic
communication and accelerating rate of dominance by finance capitalism has
aided the decline in industry and manufacturing (Arjomand,2014). it is now
easier than ever to contact someone overseas immediately, making trade easier,
but also making it more convenient large corporations to move the manufacturing
side of the business overseas, some companies have had to move overseas in
order to keep up with rival businesses who have also moved manufacturing
overseas and due to reduced overheads and cheap labour can now sell their goods
at a cheaper rate than those who have remained within the UK (BBC, 2002). Whilst
Therborn’s wave theory explains how the waves have influenced the process of
deindustrialisation, and how the 6th wave in particular has enabled
the decline of industry within the UK, it is important to remember that for the
most part, the influence of the economy and therefore whilst globalisation does
influence deindustrialisation, in only influences as it aids and enables
manufacturing companies to move overseas.

 

Whilst
globalisation links to deindustrialisation as it provides the means for which
companies can move freely overseas, capitalism is providing the system within
which businesses’ can grow and keep growing their wealth. Capitalism is the
system of wage-labour and commodity production for sale, exchange and profit
rather than for the needs of production, it provided and continues to provide
the principle means of industrialisation (Scott, 2014).

 

The
best way to demonstrate the way in which capitalism links to
deindustrialisation is through the use of Karl Marx’s theory. Karl Marx’s
theory primarily focuses on capitalism and the way in which the owners of
capital, who are referred to as the bourgeoisie treat the proletariat, the proletariat
being the people who work for the bourgeoisie (Giddens and Sutton, 2013). Marx’s
theory has two key elements, the first being capital, capital is anything that
can be used in order to make profit and gain assets, the second is wage labour
as there is a pool of workers who don’t own any means of production but their
only option is to find employment provided by owners of capital (Hands, 2010). As
part of his theory Marx looks at the class system and the relationship between
the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, as part of his theory Marx suggests that
there is a conflict between the two classes. This is where Marx’s theory links
to deindustrialisation, the industries that have declined within the UK such as
the coal industry in South Wales, or manufacturing companies that have moved
production abroad such as Coca-Cola or Unilever are all owned or at least
highly influenced by members of the modern day Bourgeoisie. Therefore, when
taking the decision to move production abroad, or import coal rather than use
the coal that is available within the UK, the bourgeoisie are only thinking of
the increase in capital for them rather than the struggle that the workers and local
area will face in finding new jobs and trying to overcome some of the other
struggles that are felt as a result of deindustrialisation. An example of this
is Margaret Thatcher and her plight against coal mines, as other forms of
energy such as diesel and electric use on the railways were becoming more
popular and therefore importing these sources could create more revenue for the
UK than coal mining (Rustin, 2015). The bourgeoisie, only have interests in what
is best for making them and their companies as much capital as possible. Dyson
is another British company who moved production abroad to benefit their business
regardless of the cost to the economy and its employees, by moving production
to Malaysia Dyson has been able to make more profit, as units are cheaper to
produce, it has however left 800 within Wiltshire unemployed (Gribben, 2003).
Through moving manufacturing abroad, large companies are not only creating
tension in society between themselves and those who are in skilled
manufacturing jobs, they are also creating a decline in the UK economy. Money
that would normally come from manufacturing reinvestment then has to be found
from other sources, one way to overcome the issues of deindustrialisation such
as this one is through regeneration of previously industry heavy areas.

 

The
way in which deindustrialisation has been navigated within the UK is through
regeneration of areas that were previously industrialised, the best example of
regeneration is Cardiff Docklands area (now known as Cardiff Bay) and the
surrounding Valleys area. Cardiff was a key location during the industrial
revolution and into the middle 21st century due to its proximity to
the South Wales valleys where the coal and iron trades were booming. The
success of Cardiff in the industrial revolution started with the opening of the
Glamorgan Canal in 1794 linked Cardiff to Merthyr Tydfil, an area that had a
wide array of coal mines, in 1798 the construction of the docklands basin
enabled trade to start expanding (Thomas, 2003). The coal industry continued to
grow, by 1862 2 million tonnes of coal were exported each year from Cardiff
basin, in 1864 this had increased to 10 million tonnes per annum and by 1914
this had further increased to 53.9 million tonnes per annum, by 1909 Cardiff
was the biggest coal exporting port in the world (Dixon, 2010). This therefore
demonstrates the extent of the success of the coal industry, it gave Cardiff a
big enough growth to enable the granting of city status in 1905, followed by
being named capital city of wales in 1955 (Dixon, 2010).  However, following World War Two the levels
of coal being exported began to continually decline until 1964 when coal
exports dried up and subsequently led to the underutilisation and eventual
abandonment of the docklands area (Radoki, 2009). The decline of the coal
industry also had impacts on the surrounding areas, especially Butetown, the
area closest to the dock area, which along with Tiger Bay became the most
impoverished area within the city ward (Dixon, 2010).

 

In
order to navigate the issue of deindustrialisation in Cardiff, it was decided
to regenerate the docklands area, into what is now known as Cardiff Bay. From
the time the industry stopped using the Docklands until the late 1980s the area
remained derelict and surrounded by mudflats (Dixon, 2010). The Docklands area
that had once enabled the cities wealth had become disinherited by the rest of
the city, as aforementioned, in the surrounding areas the population suffered
social exclusion and high levels of unemployment (Cardiff Council, 2013). In
order to change the outlook of the bleak economy within the city, the Cardiff
Bay Development Council was formed in 1987, in an attempt to counteract and
recover from some of the impacts of deindustrialisation. The main aim of the
Council was to reunite the city and the waterfront, in order to create an
environment in which people could live, work and play, whilst it was initially
expected to be developed more as an area for businesses and business park, it
changed to focus more on retail and entertainment so to ensure the development
of social and community areas, as it was believed this would help to improve
the conditions of those living in Butetown (Guy, 2010). As part of the redevelopment
project, there was the construction of a tidal barrage to make the waterfront
area more appealing to tourists and the community, in 1999 Mermaid Quay opened
on the waterfront alongside the barrage, bringing needed shops and restaurants
(Crockett, 2017). Other developments included Lloyd George Avenue, a road that
connects the city centre to the bay area as it made the bay a part of the city
again, the completion of the Wales Millennium Centre in 2004 and the Sennedd
(home to the Welsh Assembly Government) 2 years later completed the regeneration
of Cardiff bay (Crockett, 2017). The bay had transformed from a coal metropolis
into a vibrant and successful area of the city (Hooper, 2006). The overall
project cost £1.85 billion, the biggest and most expensive regeneration of
modern times, however it was needed in order to make Cardiff a major European
city once again (Dixon, 2010). The regeneration of the bay still proves itself
to be a massive success, as a result of the regeneration, the Cardiff Bay
Development Council achieved the creation of 16,750 new jobs, 4,800 new flats
and houses, also reclaiming 327 hectares of land and 79 hectares of open spaces
as well as creating and upgrading 26 miles of roads (Crockett, 2017). It would
be fair to say that the regeneration of Cardiff Bay has been a success, it has
helped the city of Cardiff grow as a whole, the city is now rated 4th
in the UK for economic competitiveness and since the opening of the Bay in 1999
has had an employment rate increase of 1.8% per year (Cardiff Council 2013).

 

In conclusion, it would be fair to say that
deindustrialisation remains a negative process within the UK, although there
are a few positives as mentioned in the first section, the negative impacts of
unemployment and an ever declining key industry far outweigh the positives.
Whilst it is not always completely clear, deindustrialisation has strong links
with both Capitalism and Globalisation, capitalism and the upper classes moving
their manufacturing abroad for their own benefit has occurred as a result of
everything becoming more global and therefore it becoming easier and more
beneficial for them to invest and access cheaper labour overseas. However, it
is possible to overcome the majority of the negative impacts of
deindustrialisation through regeneration, the regeneration of Cardiff has
proved how regenerating a once industrial area impacts the wider community and
wide reaching impacts, especially economically. Although deindustrialisation
still accounts for a poor economy and employment opportunities in some areas of
the UK, it would be fair to say that through regeneration most of these areas
will recover, although there has been a loss in manufacturing, this will be
made up for in other areas such as the service or retail industries, that seem
to have previously cut unemployment and poverty levels through regeneration in
typically poor areas. Whilst deindustrialisation is not a process that can
easily be stopped, it is something that can eventually be overcome through
regeneration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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