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’Flexible Specialisation’ and New Hollywood: Time for a Paradigm Shift?

’Flexible Specialisation’ and New Hollywood: Time for a Paradigm Shift?

Dawson, Andrew (2010) ’Flexible Specialisation’ and New Hollywood: Time for a Paradigm Shift? In: 8th European Social Science History Conference, 13-16 Apr 2010, Ghent, Belgium. (Unpublished)

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‘Flexible specialisation,’ as a conceptual framework, has exerted a powerful influence over how we understand Hollywood’s motion picture industry. Developed in the 1980s by Michael Storper, Susan Christopherson, Allen J. Scott and others, they claim to detect a new form of industrial organisation built around small competitive firms exerting powerful agglomeration influences that not only delivered greater efficiency but also promised to improve the working lives of those inside Hollywood. For supporters of flexible specialisation there exists an industrial divide separating the modern competitive era from its oligopolistic and less attractive past. This divide is represented by a series of Fordist/Post Fordist binaries: between mass production and flexible specialisation, oligopoly and competitive small firms, and between semi-skilled operatives and craft labour. Such optimism about the present industry stands in marked contrast to the darker vision of many of critics of flexible specialisation who predict a degraded, ‘globalised’ workforce as ‘runaway production’ gathers pace. Dawson argues that flexible specialisation, by inserting a spurious industrial divide, not only distorts the recent development of motion pictures but also the entire industry’s history since the 1920s. In order to fully explain the emergence of flexible specialisation and to grasp its political aspirations, he insists that we need to remember that it emerged during the Reagan era deregulation at a time of severe dislocation in the Los Angeles economy when many intellectuals looked for assurance that future industrial organisation could combine efficiency and social progress.

Item Type: Conference or Conference Paper (Paper)
Additional Information: [1] This paper was first presented at the 8th European Social Science History Conference, Ghent, Belgium 13-16 April 2010. It was given on Tuesday 13 April 2010 within the H-1 - LAB10 Session: "Working for the film and tv industry part I". [2] The contents of this paper were subsequently incorporated within Chapter 2 "Labouring in Hollywood’s motion picture industry and the promise of ‘flexible specialisation’" of "Working in the global film industries: creativity, systems, space, patronage" edited by Andrew Dawson and Sean P. Holmes, (2012), Bloomsbury Academic, ISBN 9781780930206. See GALA Item 9822.
Uncontrolled Keywords: United States, motion picture industry, flexible specialisation, Fordism, post-Fordism, historiography
Subjects: E History America > E11 America (General)
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
Pre-2014 Departments: School of Humanities & Social Sciences > Department of Communications & Creative Arts
School of Humanities & Social Sciences > History Research Group
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Last Modified: 14 Oct 2016 09:12

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