Placing Maintenance and Repair in Economic, Labor and Feminist Geographies

Type: Paper
Theme:
Sponsor Groups: Economic Geography Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Marriott Ballroom Salon 1, Marriott, Lobby Level
Organizers: Andrew Warren, Chris Gibson, Chantel Carr
Chairs: Andrew Warren

Call for Submissions

We seek to bring together interested scholars working on various aspects of maintenance and repair questions. We invite papers that seek to theoretically extend and/or empirically engage with the intertwined worlds of maintenance and repair.
Possible themes include but are not limited to:
• The changing (and enduring) geographies of maintenance and repair work
• Ethnographies of maintenance and repair industries or companies
• Socio-spatial divisions and lived experiences of maintenance and repair labor
• Restructuring of maintenance and repair
• Labor process relations of maintenance and repair
• Intersections of maintenance/repair and social difference
• The impacts of technology and institutions on maintenance and repair
• 'Nature facing' and ecological dimensions of maintenance and repair
• Moments of breakdown and disrepair
• Instances when maintenance and repair should be/are avoided
• Historical geographies of maintenance and repair
• Maintenance, repair and their social accompaniments (skill, emotions, knowledge, expertise, ethics of care)

Please send a title and abstract of no more than 250 words to Andrew (awarren@uow.edu.au), Chantel (ccarr@uow.edu.au) and Chris (cgibson@uow.edu.au).


Description

In what seemed like a throwaway line, David Harvey suggested in The Limits to Capital (1982: 2010) that 'maintenance and repair… are hard concepts to pin down with any precision, although their general import is plain enough'. It's now more than a decade since Graham and Thrift (2007) critiqued the neglect of maintenance and repair in geography and allied fields. Among other observations, their Heideggerian-inspired essay recognised the double life of maintenance and repair under capitalistic social relations. On one hand, maintenance and repair work is ubiquitous given the constellation of material 'things' and relationships that comprise everyday life and perceptions of social order (Valentine 2006; Cox 2015; Carr and Gibson 2016). Indeed, Sayer and Walker (1992: 69) had previously alluded to the increasing necessity for maintenance and repair – what they called 'post-production labor' – in light of the 'growing stock of fixed capital, infrastructure, and consumer durables' present in the world. Yet, on the other hand, much evidence, particularly from feminist scholars, reveals the ongoing devalorization of maintenance and repair work, both within and beyond the formal waged workplace (Spelman 2002; Gregson et al. 2009; Hall and Jayne 2016; Carr 2017). Many capitalist enterprises and bureaucracies conceive of maintenance and repair work as 'low status' and 'subordinate' to the production of commodities (Henke 2000; Warren 2018). Designing and producing new information-rich goods and services for consumers is framed as the 'money-making' vehicle of capitalism. Maintenance and repair, by contrast, are often implied as the mundane, 'money-sinking' parts that interrupt the realization of surplus value.

This devalorization, we argue, persists within 'mainstream' economic geography. Notwithstanding its many conceptual tools, the contributions of key theories (GPNs, evolutionary economic geography etc.) to understanding the myriad maintenance and repair activities that keep capitalist production afloat are underdeveloped. Where repair and maintenance enter the frame tends to be as secondary considerations behind the primacy of commodity production. Analysis too rarely moves beyond restating the 'general import' of maintenance and repair to examine critical questions of the structural, political, relational, and socio-spatial dynamics of the work that occupies the spaces between production and consumption (Mitchell et al. 2003; Barnes 2017; Carr 2017). This session foregrounds the diverse services and labour that, in the words of Marx (1885: 103), keep things 'in good working order'.

We seek to bring together interested scholars working on various aspects of maintenance and repair questions. We invite papers that seek to theoretically extend and/or empirically engage with the intertwined worlds of maintenance and repair.

Possible themes include but are not limited to:
• The changing (and enduring) geographies of maintenance and repair work
• Ethnographies of maintenance and repair industries or companies
• Socio-spatial divisions and lived experiences of maintenance and repair labor
• Restructuring of maintenance and repair
• Labor process relations of maintenance and repair
• Intersections of maintenance/repair and social difference
• The impacts of technology and institutions on maintenance and repair
• 'Nature facing' and ecological dimensions of maintenance and repair
• Moments of breakdown and disrepair
• Instances when maintenance and repair should be/are avoided
• Historical geographies of maintenance and repair
• Maintenance, repair and their social accompaniments (skill, emotions, knowledge, expertise, ethics of care)

Please send a title and abstract of no more than 250 words to Andrew (awarren@uow.edu.au), Chantel (ccarr@uow.edu.au) and Chris (cgibson@uow.edu.au) by Monday October 22, 2018.

References
Barnes, J. (2017) States of Maintenance: Power, Politics, and Egypt's Irrigation Infrastructure. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 35(1): 146-164.
Carr, C. (2017) Maintenance and Repair Beyond the Perimeter of the Plant: Linking Industrial Labour and the Home. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 42: 642-654.
Carr, C. and Gibson, C. (2016) Geographies of making: Rethinking materials and skills for volatile future. Progress in Human Geography 40(3): 297-315.
Cox, R. (2015) Materials, skills and gender identities: men, women and home improvement practices in New Zealand. Gender, Place and Culture 23(4): 572-588.
Graham, S. and Thrift, N. (2007) Out of Order: Understanding Maintenance and Repair. Theory, Culture and Society 24(3): 1-25.
Gregson, N., Metcalfe, A. and Crewe, L. (2009) 'Practices of object maintenance and repair: How consumers attend to consumer objects within the home' Journal of Consumer Culture 9: 248-272.
Hall. S.M. and Jayne, M. (2016) 'Make, mend and befriend: Geographies of austerity, crafting and friendship in contemporary cultures of dressmaking in the UK' Gender, Place & Culture 23(2): 216-234.
Harvey, D. (1982) The Limits to Capital. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Henke, C.R. (2000) The Mechanics of Workplace Order: Toward a Sociology of Repair. Berkeley Journal of Sociology 44: 55-81.
Marx, K. (1885/1956) Capital, Vol 2: The Process of Circulation of Capital. Moscow: Progress Publishers.
Mitchell, K., Marston, S. and Katz, C. (2003) Life's work: an introduction, review and critique. Antipode 35(3): 415–442
Sayer, A. and Walker, R. (1992) The New Social Economy: Reworking the Division of Labor. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Spelman, E. (2002) Repair: The Impulse to Restore in a Fragile World. Boston: Beacon Press.
Valentine, G. (2006) Globalizing Intimacy: The Role of ICTs in Maintaining and Creating Relationships. Women's Studies Quarterly 34(2): 365-393.
Warren, A. (2018) Labour Geographies of Workplace Restructuring: An Intra-Labour Analysis. Antipode, online first, doi.org/10.1111/anti.12432


Agenda

Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Ignaz Strebel*, , Moritz F. Fürst, University of Lausanne, Alain Bovet, University of Lausanne and HEG - Haute école de gestion Arc, University of Applied Science Western Switzerland, Infrastructural workplaces in transition 20 5:00 PM
Presenter Ingrid Behrsin*, University of California, Davis, The ‘Right to Repair’ Movement: Reorganizing control over knowledge in US industrial and information economies 20 5:20 PM
Presenter Chantel Carr*, University of Wollongong, Repair and maintenance and the de-skilling thesis 20 5:40 PM
Presenter Andrew Warren*, University of Wollongong, Australia, A GPE of maintenance and repair: analysing Australia’s ‘after-market’ automotive industry 20 6:00 PM
Discussant Chris Gibson University of Wollongong 20 6:20 PM

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