Made in Italy: Small-Scale Industrialization and Its Consequences

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The first study of its kind to be published in English, this volume offers a unique contemporary and historical analysis of postwar small-scale industrialization in central and northeastern Italy. Based on a 21-month field study undertaken by the author, Made in Italy covers a 100-year time period that encompasses the transformation of central Italy from a poor, agriculturally backward rural society into an important postwar industrial producer of export goods for the world market. Author Michael Blim challenges the widely discussed model for industrial revival proposed by Piore and Sabel in their 1984 study, arguing that forms of labor exploitation rather than technological innovation account for the central-northeastern Italian industrial success. He also challenges contemporary economic policy notions that argue that this kind of industrial success is longlasting and easily replicable in other late-developing regions, asserting instead that the petty entrepreneurial, familial character of the Italian small-scale industrial sector militates against its ultimate durability in a world dominated by transnational corporations. Blim starts from the premise that the rapid postwar economic development in the towns of central and northeastern Italy was the culmination of a century-long process of radical social change. Taking the shoe industry as an example, Blim shows how postwar entrepreneurs, accustomed to an economic system based on family enterprises, created an innovative local production system utilizing the cooperation of highly specialized firms. Although the enterprises enjoyed remarkable success, Blim demonstrates that profits depended greatly upon the exploitation of secondary labor populations, and the use of undocumented labor, facts usually ignored in other treatments of central-northeastern Italian economic development. Organized into three sections, the study first analyzes social and economic life between the Unification of Italy and the end of World War II. Subsequent chapters discuss the rise of the new industrial order and its labor process, describe the social and political consequences of postwar development, and offer the author's conclusions. Students of economic development, anthropology, and sociology will find this an important counterweight to studies that fail to assess the sometimes deleterious effects of postwar industrialization.