ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Globalisation of Steel Industry: Comment

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I feel honoured that my book The Global Restructuring of the Steel Industry was given an extensive, and I should add favourable, review by A S Firoz (EPW, Vol XXXIV, Nos 42 and 43, October 16-23, 1999). Getting across all the ideas in a book in a short review is a challenging task as there is always plenty of room for mis-communication. I believe a number of pertinent issues broached by Firoz warrant a response. Let me briefly elaborate.

There is a hint of reductionism in Firoz’s understanding of the restructuring process, which I do not share. For example, restructuring cannot ‘simply’ be a spatial relocation of the industry as asserted because the process operates in the capitalist context. The general context is one in which private property, wage labour, market production, deployment of technology and state role all have a bearing on capital accumulation. There is the other, more specific context. Japanese capitalism is different from the US one, India’s is different from South Korea’s, and so on. The differences arise from different histories and institutional make-up. Therefore, the restructuring process, as I have defined it in a multilayered way, can only be complex. In order to capture these nuances I have to, as a scholar, rely on an analytical framework that makes use of institutional and political economy approaches and insights. Firoz misses out on the complexity of the issue partly because Firoz sees technological change as “exogenous” to the capitalist context. This is definitely an incorrect perspective. To expect that “facts and figures” will tell their own story and hence no analytical framework is necessary is bad scholarship. The ground must be prepared before these facts and figures begin to reveal a story. This is exactly what I intended and believe I have quite successfully synthesised the voluminous and disparate literature found in the nearly 20 pages of references.

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