RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2014

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221 Locating Value (1): Economies
Convenor(s) Gareth Hoskins (Aberystwyth University, UK)
Samantha Saville (Aberystwyth University, UK)
Chair(s) Gareth Hoskins (Aberystwyth University, UK)
Timetable Thursday 28 August 2014, Session 2 (11:10 - 12:50)
Room Electrical Engineering Building, Room 407b - DO NOT USE 2020
Session abstract The concept of value is a fundamental core of human geography and at the heart of the discussions surrounding the spatial economy, the cultural sector, and ecosystems services. Although frequently employed within economic geography, it is often left undefined and unchallenged (Lee 2006), attracting little sustained attention. Whilst there has been intermittent interest (see for example Burgess and Gold’s ‘Valued Environments’ (1982), Clarke’s (2009) critical deconstruction of the term, Cresswell’s (2012)examination of the construction of value in archives, and Henderson’s recent effort to de-couple value and capital though a close reading of Marx (2013), a more thorough and eclectic engagement with value, considering its long-standing philosophical importance and widespread everyday use, is surely due.
In this session we aim to continue a dialogue that explores how value is geographically produced in and across different times, spaces, places and disciplines. The session draws on a variety of theoretical and empirical perspectives to interrogate the systems of value production, assessments and performances through four interlinked themes: knowledges, economies, cultures and ecologies.
Linked Sessions Locating Value (2): Cultures
Locating Value (3): Ecologies
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2014@rgs.org
Molecular Value
David Clarke (Swansea University, UK)
Marcus Doel (Swansea University, UK)
This paper considers some fundamental issues of value theory, exploring a number of unresolved problems relating to the material and the immaterial in the field of semiotics and the critique of political economy. Specifically, it attempts to do two things in order to clarify the assumptions underlying recent discussions of value, particularly in relation to immaterial labour. First, it reconsiders Saussure in the light of various lesser-known dimensions of his work, namely the comparative-linguistic reconstruction of the Indo-European language (Diver, Godzich) and the theory of anagrams (Baudrillard, Derrida, Kristéva). Second, it considers Deleuze and Guattari’s use of Hjelmslev, exploring the question of immanence in the light of a more rounded appreciation of Saussure, whilst giving due consideration to a Nietzschean perspective emphasizing debt and expenditure. The varying importance of dimensions such as form, substance, substance-effect, expression, representation, repetition, and simulacrum in these differing accounts will be brought to bear on such theses as the becoming-rent of profit and the crisis of the law of value (Vercellone).
Emerging Economic Geographies: Social Relations of Value in the “Ordinary Economy"
Erica Pani (Queen Mary University of London, UK)
In the “ordinary economy” the irreducible material need for actors to produce value
through circuits of production, consumption and exchange is central to the
sustainability of economic coherence and social reproduction across time and space.
Yet, as Lee (2006, 2011) asserts, there are multiple ways in which this irreducible
need can be met. Value is never pre-given in society, nor do economic geographies
operate under just one Iron Law of Value. Rather value emerges through economic
practice and is full of complex social relations and political possibilities, which shape
the conduct and consequences of economic geographies in innumerable ways.
Taking Lee’s social relations of value (SRV) as its analytical lens, this paper
explores the emerging economic geographies of higher education in England wherein
a neoliberal programme of marketisation attempts to shape the values, evaluations and understandings of Value of HE’s actors. SRV involve understandings about the
nature, norms, purposes and parameters of circuits of value. They make sense of,
legitimate and give direction to value by offering a framework of evaluation: mapping
the limits of what is economically desirable and setting the agenda for economic
regulation – often through relations of power. Moreover, they reflect the multiple
subjectivities that individuals hold and the multiple logics that are at play.
Thus, in accepting that normalization and diversity are constantly co-present
in the “ordinary economy”, the paper elucidates how SRV are both transformative
and transformed as HE’s actors iteratively make meaning of policy in relation to their
complex life-worlds in the struggle to define what is and is not value.
Exploring the nature and dynamics of food value chains
Susan Machum (St. Thomas University, Canada)
Over the past decade there has been a growing literature and parallel shift in public and policy discourse on the food supply system. No longer are governments, economists or local food activists discussing and making reference to ‘food supply chains’; instead they speak of ‘food value chains’. The purpose of this paper is to critically examine the ideological and policy shift emerging from the adoption of the 100-mile diet and locavorism and the implications of this shift for understanding food systems and economic praxis.

This paper draws on the results of a participatory action research case study of southeast New Brunswick, Canada (SENB) undertaken in 2013 to discuss and illustrate how food value chains are envisioned. In this community assessment, value chains encompassed the range of activities that moved a product along what is typically referred to as the food ‘supply chain’ and the quality of the relationships that are encountered along the way. In this case, we documented the activities and relationships that exist along the points of the supply chain that bring food from farm to plate in SENB. By examining local food supply chains and the values embedded within them, we are able to gauge how satisfied various actor groups are with the current supply and demand of local food. We are also able to study the theoretical frameworks of ‘value’ and how ‘value’ is experienced at various points along the food production-distribution-consumption process. It is the knowledge gained through this co-production research program that we will share with conference participants.
Regimes of Value in Maxwell Street
Tim Cresswell (Northeastern University, USA)
This paper approaches the area around Maxwell Street, Chicago as a rich urban place. Maxwell Street was the site of the largest open air market in North America during much of the 20th century. It was also a place of constant population change and a remarkable diversity of ethnicities. Louis Wirth’s classic text – “The Ghetto” - was based on this area. The paper consider the site as a place were value is negotiated. This is obviously the case in a flea market, where haggling takes place over the value of bargains. Maxwell Street was a site where objects were constantly revalued. But other kinds of valuation were also happening through the way in which the landscape itself was progressively devalued (and demolished) and then revalued through the novel process of financialisation known as Tax Increment Financing. This paper will draw together narratives normally held apart – stories from cultural geography and economic geography – in order to show how Maxwell Street was expelled from and enrolled into various regimes of value. The paper draws on extensive archival research as well as literature (novels), planning documents and photographs.