chapter  8
22 Pages

Restructuring, Work and Identity: Perspectives on Region, Class and Gender in Southern Europe

In the face of major changes in the international economy and the political turbulence of recent times, many theorists have been concerned, on the one hand, to understand the complexities of economic change under late capitalism and to unravel the enigmas of cultural politics in what is often referred to as a post-modem world on the other. To apprehend the shifting contours and structures of the contemporary economy, social scientists have proposed that prevailing global economic and social patterns have undergone a fundamental restructuring since the mid-1970s. The broad set of changes taking place world wide has been referred to variously as the end of 'organized' capitalism and the beginning of 'disorganized' capitalism (Lash and Urry, 1987; Urry 1990), or the end of industrial society and the emergence of 'post-industrial' society (Touraine, 1987), or perhaps more commonly as the end of the Fordist era of economic organization and the advent of postFordism (Aglietta, 1979; Piore and Sabel, 1984). While there are many similarities and significant differences in how these writers conceptualize the essential characteristics of the new economic regime that has emerged, collectively they have been referred to as theorists of restructuring. Underlying their different explanatory

paradigms is a common concern to explicate the reordering of economies and societies under new structural principles.2