Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: https://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.388809
Title: Offices and capital accumulation in the United Kingdom
Author: Luithlen, Lutz
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 1992
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Abstract:
The thesis is an attempt to apply the historical dialectical method of social analysis to the phenomenon of offices in capitalist societies, with particular reference to Britain. Office activities are identified as making an essential contribution to the expansion of the productive base. Thus the social relations of office work are developed from the relations of production and the basic contradiction between capital and labour. The notion of a service class is rejected in favour of an intermediate group buffered between the two main classes. A survey of manufacturing firms in Leicester examines the in-house service provisions of manufacturing firms and their requirements of 'producer' services from outside. Offices are conceived to be an integral part of the accumulation process and therefore examined as a particular form of fixed capital with its attendant problems and contradictions. The use value of offices derives from its function as fixed capital in a specific locational context. Offices as buildings and commodities have exchange value as well as use value. It is shown that the concept of rent provides the link between both types of value. Rent in the urban context is analysed in relation to the production process in general, and to property investment in particular. By dividing the category of fixed capital into land and building (including fixtures) on the one hand, and into machines employed in the labour process on the other, it is argued that under certain conditions of valorisation there are tendencies towards lower building densities at the same time as higher levels of organic composition. However, strong opposing forces are identified which, supported by state regulation and investments, are mobilised by fractions of capital with ownership or equity interests in predominantly city centre property. Given the tendency toward a declining profit rate in production, it is shown that the contradictions attached to property become increasingly problematic. Unitisation and securitisation are interpreted as efforts to overcome the barriers deriving from locational specificity and the building as fixed capital. The role of the state is considered crucial in regulating land use and providing infrastructure for defending the viability of property as interest-bearing capital which has historically accumulated in the commercial cores of major cities in Britain. The contradictions of fixed capital also surface as realisation crises with inherent cyclical tendencies. These tendencies are, however, conditioned by 'external' factors impinging upon both use and exchange value of offices. The use value of offices is conditioned by the spatial organisation of production and by changes in the service sector itself. Exchange value, although ultimately guaranteed only by use value, is largely dependent upon credit politics and the attitude of financial institutions. Data on office development in Leicester over the last two decades are used to illustrate the general cyclical tendency in office develoment as well as its regional characteristics. The analysis concludes with a brief examination of the political and economic circumstances, specific to Britain, which have shaped the provision of office property during the post-war period.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.388809  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Cities
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