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Class Conflict and Industrial Location


  • Erik K. Olsen

    (University of Missouri Kansas City, Kansas City, MO, USA,


This paper examines the effect of class conflict on industrial location both theoretically and empirically. It demonstrates that there is a sound theoretical basis and empirical support for the conclusion that U.S. industries have chosen to abandon agglomeration and scale economies in order to secure a distribution of income that favors capital at the expense of labor. The decline of the U.S. manufacturing belt is examined with reference to union density, bargaining power, and the effects that large-scale production plants have on these factors. The meat packing industry in the postwar United States serves as a case study to establish the specific ways that class conflict has shaped the scale profile and geographic distribution of production plants. The paper builds upon the class conflict approach to urban and regional economics pioneered by Matthew Edel and David Gordon and aims to demonstrate its explanatory power. JEL classification: R30, J51, B51.

Suggested Citation

  • Erik K. Olsen, 2010. "Class Conflict and Industrial Location," Review of Radical Political Economics, Union for Radical Political Economics, vol. 42(3), pages 344-352, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:reorpe:v:42:y:2010:i:3:p:344-352

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    class conflict; plant size; industrial location; agglomeration economies;

    JEL classification:

    • R30 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location - - - General
    • J51 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Trade Unions: Objectives, Structure, and Effects
    • B51 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Socialist; Marxian; Sraffian


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