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Title: Uneven development, rent and the social organisation of capital : A study of the fishing industry of Nova Scotia, Canada.
Author: Gene Barrett, L.
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 1982
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A number of perennial problems have plagued the fishing industry of Nova Scotia. Low prices and low incomes have always been blamed by state authorities and outside observers on fragmentation and poor quality products. Criticism has often also been levied against capitalists and producers alike for overcapacity, inefficiency or under-capitalization The dismal failure of state policy to ever come to grips with these problems has brought into question its theoretical foundation: in particular the narrow perspectives used by development and fishery economics. It is argued that a broader, holistic approach is needed to understand the complexities and seeming contradictions of the situation. The theory used is one which situates the problems of the industry in the history of capital accumulation, and regional under?evelopment. From Marx's analyses of uneven development and ground-rent a number of substantive propositions are brought forward. In historical terms: the parasitic role and function of merchant's capital in the social organization of the industry and region; in more recent times, the importance of relative surplus population in the insulation of capital from restructuring pressures. In both periods, the relationship between the appropriation of rent by direct producers, and the subsumption of that class by capital, is explored to understand the level of fragmentation in the indus try. The empirical analysis of the fishing industry is broken down into three periodisations: a mercantile period from initial settlement in the 1500' s to 1880; an ': _ :'"..lstrial period from 1880 to 1939; and a monopoly phase from 1939 to the present. It is argued that the history and structure of the fishinq industry in Nova Scotia are the legacy of two phenomena. First, the ~PLative failure of capital to entirely subsume either the resource or primary labour. The former, due to certain technical char?~~eristics of production and the common property nature of the fishery. The latter, as· a consequence of the appropriation of rent by direct producers and the economies associated with their intermediate and small scale units. Second, where capital has succeeded in establish~ng itself, it has been insulated from competitive pressures to restructure. This insulation is a consequence of regional social conditions-of surplus labour, on the one hand, and state subsidrzation, on the 0ther. The prospects for the future are given some consideration through a look at monopoly capital and state policy in the industry. While Marx failed to anticipate the significance of the state in the accumulation process, his analysis of the anarchy of capitalist production -all the more acute in primordial resource industries -- was shown to be quite useful. For this reason the assertion of public management and control over all aspects of resource production is considered the only possible solution for the future. Up to 1974, the orientation of state policy in the fishery was to facilitate -- and, in some cases, enforce -- accumulation and restructuring, while often mediating intra-capitalist contentions- for resource access. Of late, overexploitation of the resource has forced the state to exercise a regulatory function in the long term interests of capital itself. The prospects for a full transformation of private regulation into social management are unlikely, it is concluded, as long as some sectors of the fishing indus·try remain capitalist strongholds.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Economics & economic theory Economics Aquaculture Fisheries