Introduction: the debate
For more than a decade now a number of debates have been taking place within industrial geography. The period has been one in which issues of the geography of industry - of the spatial form of industrial decline and growth - have often been at the forefront of wider political debate. And in the discipline of geography there have been long discussions - in conferences, seminar-rooms, books, journals and special reports - on regional policy and what form it should take, and on the rapid-fire series of policies for the inner-city in which ‘solution’ after ‘solution’ has been flung in the direction of the latest areas of industrial dereliction to gain political recognition. There have been debates about the relationship which should exist, if there is to be any chance of success in the declared aim of evening-out the unequal geographical, industrial and social development of the UK, between national economic policies and more specifically spatial ones; the relevance of spatial policies at all has been questioned. There have been arguments over the significance and behaviour of big corporations, variously called monopoly capital, multinationals and the meso-economic sector. And related to this has been the ques tion of the degree to which, and the way in which, the changing
internal geography of the UK is a product of the UK’s own changing position within the international division of labour. New, or newish, problems of the quality of jobs, the geography of technology, of branch-plant economies and of external control, and new proposals for solutions, from science parks to enterprise zones; all have been on the agenda for debate within industrial geography.