Power, competition and regulation : the case of the UK brewing sector.
This thesis explores the role of unequal power relationships between business enterprises
in the UK brewing sector and how these asymmetries shape the dynamic and direction of
changei n patternso f geographicailn dustrialisation.P ower has,t o date,r emaineda largely
neglected concept in economic relationships as considered in economic geography.
A new model of geographical industrialisation is developed in this thesis that focuses on
capital: capital relations, incorporates the dynamic nature of enterprises and the networks
of relations within which they are embeddedt,h e asymmetryo f power relations within and
betweene nterprisesa ndt he dynamicc hangesin markets tructured uring periodso f recession
and restructuring. It further seeks to explore the relationship between stability and instability
in the derivation of emerging patterns of geographical industrialisation.
The model is based on the concept of circuits of power (Clegg, 1989) which has been
successfully applied to economic geography over recent years (Taylor, 1995,1996; Taylor
and Hallsworth, 1996,1999; Taylor eta!, 1995). In this model inequalities in power between
enterprisese stablishesth e basesu pon which competition can take place and go on to create
the context within which social relationships are established and can develop.
However, as currently specified this approach neglects the collective agency of enterprises
inherent in segmented economic sectors (Taylor and Thrift, 1982a, 1982b, 1983). By the
incorporation of appropriate insights from the study of complexity, collective agency, the
element of process within the circuits of power framework, can be more fully understood.
In this way those processes that create instability and flux in enterprises, but which at the
same time lead to periodic stabilisations, can be identified.
The thesis is divided into four parts. Part I. makes explicit the limitations of current theories
of geographical industrialisation (Chapters 1 and 2) and proposes a new model (Chapter 2),
incorporating the concepts of circuits of power and complexity, that addresses these
Part II of the thesis (Chapters 3,4 and 5) tests the model against historical trajectories of
change in the UK brewing sector identifying six cycles of change since 1700. For each cycle,
by applying the model, the processes that have instigated and promulgated change are made
explicit. Distinct enterprise segmentations, associated with each period of relative stability
during these cycles, are also identified.
Part III of the thesis, through a questionnaire survey (Chapter 6) and a series of semistructured
interviews (Chapter 7), uses the model to examine the state of the UK brewing
sector at the present time. Chapter 6 identifies contemporary enterprise segments active
within the sector and the differential action of pressures upon these segments. In doing so
the path dependent trajectories ofchange ofenterprise segments, and the limitations imposed
upon such trajectories, are made explicit.
Chapter 7 considers, through the model, the day to day interactions of enterprise segments
and how these interactions reinforce the negotiated inequalities inherent in asymmetrical
power relations. Coping strategies adopted by enterprises during a period of instability are
identified and the relationship between the market and interpersonal relationships are made
explicit. It is concluded that the model proposed in this thesis provides for a more realistic
interpretation of changing patterns of geographical industrialisation than previous models