Melting the cold war permafrost: restructuring military industry in Scotland

Alex Law*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)


    Military industry stands at the confluence of local, national and global processes. This paper examines the restructuring of this peculiar industry in one region, Scotland, from a perspective that takes the geography of production to be a joint, though contradictory, creation. Following the work of Lovering for the UK as a whole, the case of Scotland-often imagined as "militantly proletarian"-allows a specific study of the accumulation strategies of state and capital and the role of organized labor in mediating the spatial fix. Until the early 1990s accumulation was premised on additive "capital widening" strategies. Since then, both "capital narrowing" rationalization strategies and "capital deepening" intensification strategies have been pursued. Through restructuring, the UK military industry attempts to utilize the abstract spaces of the social economy to expediently and opportunistically reconstitute the concrete spaces of production and renegotiate its dependency on the refractory material of proximate living labor. Yet spatial shifts have not uniformly benefited the southern core of the UK military industry. One reason for the continuing salience of military industry in Scotland has been the role of a pan-class alliance, "the Scottish lobby," in campaigning against closures and for the allocation of defense contracts. Trade unions have attempted to mediate the contradictions of restructuring by supporting external strategies to retain firm survival in their present localities, even as internally workforce numbers are cut in half and management regimes become more abrasive.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)421-452
    Number of pages32
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1999


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