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Businesses, boundaries and belonging: toward an ethnography of flexible specialisation

Atkin, Ian and Hassard, John (1998) Businesses, boundaries and belonging: toward an ethnography of flexible specialisation. International journal of sociology and social policy, 18 (9). pp. 1-19. ISSN 0144-333X

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Abstract

Reviews literature on industrial choice, ethnography and flexible specialization. Investigates flexible specialization in more depth, claiming that before ethnographic description can be achieved, abstract simplifications and the choices facing businesses in the local community have to be overcome. Proposes two models for economic recovery – flexible specialization and multinational Keynesianism – and discusses the boundaries that both models impose. Explores the public sphere and enterprise culture, particularly in the UK. Warns of the dangers of ethnographic studies of communities, specifically the imposition of meaning onto communal exchanges. Talks also of social solidarity. Observes that the identification of a communal language and a common work culture is tricky but that ethnography has a role to play in establishing the meaning of flexible specialization in small business communities.

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