مردم، شهرها، رشد و تغییر تکنولوژیکی: از عصر طلایی به جهانی شدن
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|8500||2003||32 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Volume 70, Issue 3, March 2003, Pages 199–230
The concept of economic development appeared during the postwar period as the basis and the source of a very strong hope of eradicating extreme poverty from the face of the Earth. All along the three first decades of this period—the second half of the 20th century—this promise did not seem questionable. It was thought that there were clear signs that material progress reaching larger sectors of the population and economic growth were parallel processes, linked to urbanization. A new style was thus established—that of modern large cities. However, the dynamics of this period appears to be strongly associated with the economic activity related to the basic construction of one's own lifestyle. The effects of structural market saturation and the limits of the redistribution of income began to be noticed in as far back as the end of the 1960s, and even more clearly so towards the end of the 1970s. That was the moment when population growth in the megalopolises and large cities in general began to become stable and even to decline in absolute value. It was also the time when the acceleration of technological innovation began to play a major role in development policies, while low social inclusion and marginalization problems became evident. This paper delves into this hypothesis on the basis of ample empirical evidence. Numerous conclusions are drawn from the analysis, which are useful for a serious restatement of the controversial issue of Sustainable Development.
This paper attempts to explore new hypotheses about some of the causes underlying the transformation of the world economic system, which took place between the end of the 1960s and the mid-1970s. These transformations have given rise to several important phenomena: Fordism has been given up, and has gradually been replaced by flexible accumulation; economic activity has purportedly dematerialized progressively; there have been cultural and attitudinal changes regarding the view of the future, which in turn influence people's values and growth standards. It does not seem necessary to enlarge on detailed verification of the phenomena mentioned above. They are extensively dealt with in the most diverse literature on the changes that have affected a wide range of fields related to economic, social and cultural life as from the moment of that turning point defined above.3 The interpretation of such changes in world economy put forward here has, at its starting point, the links found among urbanization, economic growth, structural overcapacity and technological change, all of them interactive factors, to which current literature does not seem to have paid the necessary attention.4 The interrelated hypotheses postulated in this paper can be stated in the following way: the economic growth that took place during most of the second half of the 20th century was based on a set of technologies, which were strongly linked to the urbanization process itself, especially in large cities. When this urbanization process started to slow down, many production sectors entered a phase that will, from now on, be referred to as “structural overcapacity.” The production sectors most highly affected by this phenomenon were those related to the construction of the modern urban lifestyle and its infrastructure. This brought about an increasingly competitive context. One of the main reactions of industry to this reality was, and still is, permanent technological innovation. In turn, this has produced in many cases the forced obsolescence of capital goods and consumer goods, whether they are durable or not. However, it is suggested that if the reduction forced on obsolescence terms is not accompanied by a global increase in productivity (thus reducing the capital–product relationship), the system tends to introduce a structural limitation on income distribution, which is not related to the increase in capital revenue. This in turn has two important consequences: it reinforces the tendency to income concentration and it limits the growth of aggregate global demand. In the author's opinion, there are several phenomena characteristic of the evolution of industrial societies whose presence has been more noticeable since the mid-1970s and which would be, at least to some extent, the consequence of the mechanisms explained in this paper. Among others, these phenomena include: urban marginality low social inclusion rates gradually worsening working and employment conditions longer working hours for those who have a job and consequent free time reduction growing participation of service sectors in economy (especially those services implying very low productivity) to the detriment of the sectors producing goods purported progressive dematerialization of economy workforce expansion and simultaneous increase in unemployment and underemployment rates, both processes with serious consequences on family integrity growing pressure exerted on natural resources negative externalities acquiring increasingly more importance and having a greater impact growing demand of money for the public sector and, at the same time, greater pressure exerted in order to reduce fiscal pressure, due to the need to reduce production costs for the private sector, which has to undergo greater competition. The approach of contemporary literature to most of these phenomena has been to consider them simply as exclusively a consequence of the fact that Fordism was given up and that flexible accumulation processes have appeared ,  and . Other authors have also considered them changes in the manner of regulation . Their real origin, however, has not been clearly explained. Current interpretations merely see them as resulting from the evolution of capitalist economies and therefore present them as accumulation crises related to a fall in the capital–return ratio. The underlying causes of such fall, however, have been interpreted in very diverse and controversial ways . On the contrary, the set of connected hypotheses put forward here explains the problem as stemming from the dynamics that were typical of the urbanization process, especially during its most creative and developing phase—between 1950 and 1970—and considers this process hardly likely to be repeated. Many sections make up this paper. The first one goes deep into some relations among urbanization, technology and growth, and presents the results of econometric analyses about the link between urbanization and growth level. 3 and 4 explore the consequences that the slower pace of urban growth has on a world scale, especially as it affects the population of large cities (over 750,000 inhabitants in 1990). This process has been analyzed by means of a logistic representation of the growth of urban population and of the main goods which are, and have always been, characteristic of the urban lifestyle, such as homes and automobiles. Those representations show the prospective maximum demand on the industries related to the production of those goods, especially those producing the capital goods used in their manufacturing. This analysis accounts for the appearance of the concept of structural overcapacity due to market saturation, defined as the maximum prospective point as of which projected demands produced later on in time will decrease. Together with the analytic account and presentation of this concept, relevant empirical evidence is presented to illustrate it. One of the main hypotheses of this paper is that forced technical obsolescence has become one of the major mechanisms devised to “escape” the fall in demand caused by structural overcapacity. Therefore, the author explores the effects of such phenomenon on income distribution. In order to do so, Section 5 presents a global analytical model of income distribution between capital and the rest of the factors. This, in turn, is based on a simple model of formation of supply prices (ex ante). Such model shows that the shorter lifespan of capital goods may modify the pattern of income distribution in favor of the capital sector, without implying, however, higher capital–return ratios. It is also suggested, on the basis of some empirical evidence, that the worsening of income distribution that has taken place since the 1980s and the growth of the global capital—product ratio could be attributed to that cause, even when this would of course not be the only reason. On the other hand, the second part of that section presents some arguments related to the problem of the inflexibility of the productive system due to the link between technology and production. This is done in order to illustrate the kinds of problem brought about by capital mobility among different sectors, which have to do with technological rigidity. The theoretical models dealing with the rationale for the mechanisms for assigning productive resources generally ignore this aspect. Section 6 presents the United Nations projections for total population, urban population and population in large cities in order to explore some of the consequences derived from economic growth and structural overcapacity as analyzed in the previous sections. With a view to that aim, the regions and nations that will contribute mostly to the increase in urbanization in the next two decades are identified and their potential effect on those two aspects is commented upon. Finally, Section 7 explores the consequences of the set of hypotheses presented in relation to the concept of sustainable development. The rationality of modern production methods is discussed there, as well as the possibility that in future, once urbanization processes have been completed on a world scale, the product can be stabilized at levels that will enable wide social inclusion rates and the maintenance of high product per inhabitant levels. The suggestion there is that such a process will be difficult, unless the mechanisms for assigning resources, the technological bases of growth and/or the very objectives of development are radically changed.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The theoretical and empirical contributions that may be drawn from the present analysis are very diverse and difficult to approach in a paper of such limited scope as this. Nevertheless, it seems useful to attempt a summary of the major consequences visualized so far, and also to relate this analysis with some facts that can be interpreted in the light of what has been exposed here. As was mentioned at the beginning of this paper, there are several phenomena that are characteristic of the evolution of industrial societies, which begin to be verified as from the mid-1970s with greater intensity. These phenomena would be, at least to some extent, a consequence of the mechanisms explained here, and could therefore be explained in the light of the arguments outlined in this paper.18 Among these phenomena, as will be remembered, the following could be mentioned: (permanent) urban marginality, low social inclusion and worsening working and employment conditions, which would be a direct consequence of the completion of the dynamic phase of the creation of cities. That is, the phenomenon of structural overcapacity, especially in industries linked to construction and to infrastructure and equipment investment, would underlie the exhaustion of the Fordist model and its consequences on the field of labor. Another aspect is the need for longer working hours for those people who have a job and the resulting reduction of their free time, as a consequence of the loss of productivity. This is so because it is necessary to devote much more time to the organization of new business, the creation of new products, and, all in all, the management of everything that supposes a context of greater competition and the acceleration of obsolescence terms. The growing participation of service sectors in economy (especially those with very low productivity), to the detriment of the sectors producing goods, would stem from the transition from the dynamic and creative phase in the creation of new cities (and the connections among them) to another phase where construction and expansion activities make way for activities related to maintenance and continuous provision. It is believed that, once the migration from rural to urban areas has taken place, it is very difficult to reverse the process, even when the conditions for urban life are not satisfactory. This would give rise to a whole range of occasional activities, especially having to do with services. All these tally with what was put forward in previous paragraphs regarding low social inclusion. Workforce expansion on a global level and the simultaneous increase in employment and underemployment—both with strong consequences on family integrity—would be linked to the families' attempts to have access to greater consumption levels, in the face of the smaller opportunities offered by the system as a whole. This last fact is a consequence of both the reduction of individual income and the constant addition of goods and services in order to maintain the GNP level stabilized. This in turn could be associated with the cultural change as regards the relations with objects and fashions, and also as regards the participation of women in the working sector, with the deep impact that these phenomena have on society. As regards the growing pressure exerted on natural resources and the more significant impact of negative externalities, it is practically obvious that their origin lies in the constant addition of new products and the rapid replacement of others. The exception to this would be, of course, those cases in which the new technologies are more environmentally friendly than the old ones that are being replaced. The growing demand of money for the public sector and, at the same time, greater pressure exerted in order to reduce fiscal pressure, whatever the source of financing might be, seem to derive from two phenomena. These are, on the one hand, the increasing degree of urbanization added to the existence of the problems mentioned before (marginality, unemployment, negative externalities, etc.), and on the other, the hypercompetitive atmosphere in the private sector, which leads to a reduction in costs, among them the fiscal costs, apart from what was shown in Section 5 regarding the effect of the shorter terms of capital recovery derived from rapid technical change. Many of these aspects, as was said in the Introduction, have been dealt with by contemporary literature as connected simply and exclusively to the fact that Fordism was given up and that flexible accumulation processes have appeared. On the contrary, this paper has attempted to show that such phenomena would, in turn, be subordinate to the completion of the initial dynamics of the urbanization process. Therefore, they would not constitute only a crisis of capitalism, but a profound crisis of the industrial system itself and of the logic underlying such form of production. It is relevant to ask as to what extent the new technologies in the fields of communication, genetics and biotechnology, and the advances in several fields such as conductive polymers, compound materials, energy, supramolecular medicine, optics and many others will manage to replace the trend of accelerated production that was typical of the most creative phases of the urbanization revolution that took place in the golden years. Without a process with similar magnitude, it does not seem possible to imagine a dynamic economy in the next decades. But at the same time, this paper has tried to show the limits of this method of growing on the basis of continual innovation. If all this is so, then it is necessary to propose new bases for the solution of the economic problem before this crisis becomes even more profound. In connection with this, population projections for people living in large cities and in urban areas in future show the prevailing role of China and India. Twenty one percent of the increase in population living in large cities foreseen on a world scale for the 2000–2015 period will correspond to China, and 16% to India. Without considering these two nations, the new peak of population growth in large cities would have been reached as from 1995; including them, however, this peak will be reached by 2005.19 If the present analysis is relevant and conceptually correct, the problem of structural overcapacity on a world scale would be ameliorated for around a decade with a greater participation of China (and India, were that to be possible). Yet, inevitably enough, the problem would strike back with renewed strength in the following decade and on a longer term, so that progressive exclusion would become the rule rather than the exception. In the long term, this defies the limited rationality of the present industrial society (even if it is called new economy), whichever the system that supports it (capitalist or socialist) might be. This is so unless there is a serious revision of the motivational basis20 and development mechanisms that have ruled the world over the last centuries, but especially over the second half of the 20th century.