Geographical Power and Shifts in the Recent Past

Throughout the period between the late 1800s to 1930, commercial geography existed, which concerned commodities according to their places of origin and their paths of transportation (MacKinnon and Cumbers, 2007, pp23). Post World War 1, a decline in colonial empires powers could be seen (MacKinnon and Cumbers, 2007, pp24). Realisation of the need for major growth was globally apparent.

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1930s saw a rise of Fordism, a system based on mass production and consumption, bringing high rates of productivity in the workplace and expanding wages (Mackinnon and Cumbers, 2007, pp31). This was possible through fixed expenses being shared over a larger number of outputs thereby reducing unit costs and exploiting the division of labour (Thompson, 2007). Years of sustained high economic growth and economic advancements was present throughout most major world economies due to Fordism (Thompson, 2007).

 

Keynes emphasised just how important government control over the level of demand in the economy to reach full employment. States took on interventionist approaches (Mackinnon and Cumbers, 2007, pp 31).  The Keynesian economic theory, that consisted of two components: raising government expenditure and lowering tax rates, aimed to stimulate demand and get economies out of an economic downturn (Investopedia, n.d.).  

 

Fordism experienced many problems leading up to the 1970s. A new form of ‘post-Fordism’ saw a larger emphasis on the role of small firms, ICT and individualised forms of consumption (Mackinnon and Cumbers, 2007, pp32).

 

Neoliberal approaches became very apparent in the 1970s as we shifted away from Keynesianism, towards the reduction intervention by the state and the increase in popularity of free markets, promoting competition (MacKinnon and Cumbers, 2007, pp32). 

 

A rise in Marxism came about towards the end of the 1960s (Mackinnon and Cumbers, 2007, pp30).  In its early stages, focus was based on how capitalism can create certain geographical landscapes; there is both need for capital to be fixed in one place and for it to be able to move around (MacKinnon and Cumbers, 2007, pp31). Productive environments need to be built up over a period of time, which is done through keeping capital immobile however, if capital doesn’t eventually move, it will be unresponsive to changing economic conditions and miss out more profitable locations (MacKinnon and Cumbers, 2007, pp31). Spatial fix, which is “the establishment of relatively stable geographical arrangements that facilitate the expansion of the capitalist economy for a certain period of time” (MacKinnon and Cumbers, 2007, pp302), saw North America and Western Europe deindustrialise in the late 1970s and expansions in certain industries in newly industrialising countries (MacKinnon and Cumbers, 2007, pp.31).

 

In the 1980s, Marxism became criticised for being too out of touch with modern times and thought (MacKinnon and Cumbers, 2007, pp32). Three important critiques included the view of human beings as their class instead of their individual person, too much stress on economic forces and relations and too much attention to class, with little to gender or race (MacKinnon and Cumbers, 2007, pp33).

 

The post war welfare state agreed with Keynesianism theories to surge economic growth. Keynes rejected the thought of a classical market economy and was for state fiscal policy to reach maximum employment (MacKinnon and Cumbers, 2007, pp93). Spatial Keynesianism was enforced to close the widening gap between richer and poorer regions. Factories and office spaces were positioned in locations that saw need for growth and development of financial core hubs was halted to even out the development (MacKinnon and Cumbers, 2007, pp95). These was prominent until the stagflation crisis of the 1970s, when attention shifted towards neoliberalism (MacKinnon and Cumbers, 2007, pp96).