Andalusia in the Spanish territorial division of labour. An approach in the light of its socio-economic metabolism

Manuel Delgado, Oscar Carpintero, Pedro Lomas, Sergio Sastre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Reduced to the isolated universe of monetary value, the conventional economic approach circumscribes the economic dynamics affecting territories, such as the relationships between them, to a set of flows solely expressed in monetary terms. This one-dimensional view disconnects the economic system from the social, physical and territorial world in such a way that the social and economic costs essential for the maintenance and enrichment of life in those territories are ignored. This way of viewing economics generates a conflict between the economy and the territory and this conflict is at the root of ecological degradation which reaches different degrees and has different implications depending on the economic activities occurring in those territories and depending on the role they play within the system and the relationships between them. The territorial division of work, which has been intensified by globalization, has accentuated the polarization between territories devoted to activities located in the later stages of the manufacture and marketing of goods and services, to be found at the apex of the hierarchy of tasks within the division of work (central territories) and territories which supply primary products and which perform the first stages of extraction and processing of natural resources (peripheral territories). Behind the veil of the monetary worldview held by the conventional economy, therefore, lie hidden the relationships of power and the spatial division of work as mechanisms for domination and for the appropriation of the wealth of some territories by others. This paper studies the place occupied by Andalusia in the territorial division of work in Spain using Material Flow Accounting (MFA) methodology. The aim is to look beyond monetary value, monitoring the physical flows involved in the economic processes in terms of social metabolism. To do so, in a step-by-step approach, the first section uses regional data on the extraction of materials and energy, followed in the second section by an examination of physical commercial flows. Finally, in section three, the regional localization of different branches of activity within the Spanish economy is considered. Section 1 compares the capacity for the appropriation of monetary value (gDP) of each Autonomous Community with the endogenous resources generated by each one, represented by the domestic extraction of materials. This reveals a regional grouping in which we can clearly distinguish a set of regions which, with relatively low domestic extraction of resources, appropriate a significant proportion of the monetary value generated by the Spanish economy. Among them, the territories which have traditionally been central to the Spanish economy (Madrid, Catalonia and the Basque Country), (9.3% of the territory), enjoyed 42.6% of the added value in the Spanish economy, which is more than double the figure for their domestic extraction (20.2% of the Spanish total). They are, basically, the regions which use the rest of the territory to supply their production and consumption patterns. On the other hand, there are the majority of the Spanish regions, where 67.9% of the domestic extraction of resources takes place and where 41.3% of added value is enjoyed. In this case, more than half of the extraction (50.2%) is located in five regions: Murcia, galicia, Castilla La Mancha, Castilla León and Andalusia. The latter is the region with the greatest difference between the gDP obtained and the use of endogenous natural resources. The study of external trade flows offers a clearer profile of Andalusia's specialization within the Spanish economy as it allows us more clearly to determine what is demanded of the Andalusian economy from outside and, at the same time, makes it possible to incorporate the manufacturing process of products and to calibrate the weighting of different sectors of production within the complex of interregional relationships. With respect to exports, there is considerable concentration in two sectors: Energy products and Food products. These two sectors represented well over half (58.2%) of the products exported from Andalusia to the other Autonomous Communities over the 15 years studied. The first item, Energy products, is related to the relocation to Andalusia in the 1960s of certain industrial activities (oil refining, basic chemical industry, paper mills, initial processing and production of metals) which covers the first stages of production processes whose later, more complex phases, where greater added value is generated, take place outside Andalusia. The ecological degradation associated with this relocation of industrial activities has caused environmental damage in Andalusia which is proportionally much greater than that seen in the industrialized regions. The second item of Andalusian exports, food products, represented 26.0% of total Anda-lusian exports for the period 1996-2010. Most are agricultural products or the results of the initial processing of foodstuffs, which is simply a prolongation of agricultural activity (fruit, vegetables and oil). In this regard, it is interesting to note that these exports represent a growing proportion of the biomass extracted in Andalusia, and so it can be said that the natural heritage of Andalusia is, increasingly, being used to satisfy the food requirements of other territories which receive primary products from Andalusia with a very low level of processing, and which are distanced from the more dynamic nucleus of the agri-food system. In contrast, it should be noted that the high volume of food products exported to the rest of Spain is accompanied by a similar tonnage of imports from those other regions. These are mainly processed products. Here, a growing gap is to be found between domestic extraction and the internal demand for foodstuffs, which accentuates the food dependency of Andalusia and, at the same time, translates into a sharp disconnection between food production and consumption. The third section looks in greater detail at specialization in the tasks performed in the different territories by looking at the regional localization of economic activities. This gives us a more complete picture of the spatial distribution of those tasks as it uses a more detailed breakdown of the different processing activities and includes services. Here, again, it can be observed that, as it has traditionally been, Andalusia is still an extractive economy, a supplier of primary products. With a system of intensive agriculture on a model in which extraction is forced through the introduction into the system of increasing volumes of materials and energy and the intensity of extraction is increased through the progressive use of intermediate inputs, which are mainly non-renewable, and which, in turn, involve extractive processes in the same and/or other spaces, with the consequent deterioration and progressive degradation of the environment in which this agriculture is practiced, and to which is added to the import of sustaina-bility from other territories. The devotion to extractive industry in the Andalusian economy differentiates and distances it from the "central" economies, as can be seen in a comparison with Catalonia, deepening an unequal exchange between Andalusia and other territories which is masked by the conventional conception of the economy and is related to the fact that, in monetary terms, the contribution of nature has no cost, and to the role of Power relationships within the system. In this paper, Andalusia is seen to be a territory specializing in activities which generate social and ecological damage which remains hidden by the focus of the conventional economy. An area for the appropriation of wealth at low cost by the central territories, from where not only their own spheres of activity are controlled and managed, but also, to a large extent, those of outside and "peripheral" territories such as Andalusia, for which economic growth means the exacerbation of their situation of dependency and marginalization. This domination is not only material. It is also an ideological domination which results in the very situation of domination being interpreted in terms of models and instruments operating in favor of the dominant interests. For Andalusia, this is a path of divergence, not convergence, a path which leads to the loss of control over the management of its resources and the separation of the Andalusian economy from what should be its priority objective: the maintenance and enrichment (sustainability) of social and natural life.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-222
JournalRevista de Estudios Regionales
Issue number100
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014

Keywords

  • Andalusia
  • Ecological economics
  • Inequal exchange
  • Material Flow Accounting (MFA)
  • Territorial division of labour

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Andalusia in the Spanish territorial division of labour. An approach in the light of its socio-economic metabolism'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this