[OPE-L] producing capital and culture

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Sun May 15 2005 - 09:05:03 EDT

< http://www.pupress.princeton.edu/titles/7367.html >

Sylvia Junko Yanagisako _Producing Culture and Capital: Family Firms
  in Italy_


"Drawing on ethnographic and archival research on thirty-eight firms
in Northern Italy's silk industry, Sylvia Yanagisako illuminates the
cultural processes through which sentiments, desires, and commitments
motivate and shape capitalist family firms.  She shows how flexible
specialization is produced through the cultural dynamics of capital
accumulation, management succession, expansion and diversification,
and the reproduction and division of capitalist firms.  In doing so,
Yanagisako addresses two gaps in Marx's and Weber's theories
of capitalism: the absence of an adequate cultural theory of capitalist
motivation and the absence of attention to kinship and gender.  By
demonstrating that kinship and gender are crucial in structuring
capitalist  action, this study reveals these two gaps to be facets of
the same  omission. A process-orientated approach to class formation
and class  subjectivity enables the author to incorporate the material
and ideological  struggles within families into an analysis of class-
making and self-making.

Yanagisako concludes that both 'provincial' and 'global' capitalist
orientations and strategies operate in an industry that has always been
into regional and international relations of production and distribution.
 Her approach to culture and capitalism as mutually constituted processes
offers an alternative to both universal models of capitalism as a mode
of  production and essentialist models of distinctive 'cultures of

-- Chapter 1 is available (in both html and pdf) at the above site. --


Tentative musings:

I haven't read this book, but the question that immediately comes to
mind  is whether her perspective on producing capital and culture can
be  sustained for large capitalist firms.  After all,  the expansion of
capital also means the furthering of the concentration and centralization
of capital and hence a changing importance of  small firms and, also, a
differing relationship between small and large firms.  If there is  a
culture that can be said to exist for the families of small business
owners, isn't that a different culture than that for the families who
own large firms?  Regarding the latter,  ownership often and
increasingly takes the form of stock ownership within the context of
diversified investment portfolios rather than ownership of a firm that
is specific to one branch of production.  Indeed, there is a trend for
the firms themselves to be increasingly diversified.  By not being tied
to a specific place or industry, doesn't this change the culture of
that class?  Isn't there a  _separate_ culture  of  large capitalists
associated with late capitalism and doesn't this conflict  in some
significant ways with the culture of families who own small family
firms?   I also wonder whether we can generalize based on the experience
of the  Northern Italian silk industry or whether more regional and
international class  studies are required before any general conclusions
can be asserted.

In solidarity, Jerry

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