Volume 44, Number 175,
October-December 2013
Power and Space:
Revising the Theory of Regional Topics in Argentina
Ariel García and Alejandro Rofman*
Date received: December 14, 2012. Date accepted: March 11, 2013
Abstract

This research focuses on concerns related to the theoretical foundation used to address regional issues in Argentina, seeking to contribute a systematic set of conceptual reflections. By critiquing dominant ways of thinking and attempts to revisit already familiar – and suffered – paths, this text is able to develop a novel theoretical interpretive framework regarding notions of power and space in the social constructs of the region. In light of this objective, this work aims to achieve the following: a) analyze the notion of power and its relation to the idea of space, and b) define an theoretical interpretive framework from which to approach social subjects, taking into account the dominant regime of any given national system.

Keywords: power, space, development, public policy, State.
INTRODUCTION

This research focuses on concerns related to the theoretical foundation used to address regional issues in Argentina,1 from the perspective that past and dominant analyses of social inequalities in regional areas disregard, or at least underestimate, complexities linked to notions of power and space. This is a significant exclusion because the objective essentially consists of reducing social gaps, both between regions as well as within them. This goal can be reached through public policy oriented towards progressive income and wealth redistribution.

This work seeks to provide a systematic set of conceptual reflections which, by critiquing dominant ways of thinking and attempts to revisit already familiar – and suffered – paths, aims to develop a theoretical and interpretive framework regarding notions of power and space in the social constructs of the region. The specific objective consists of the following: a) analyze the notion of power and its relation to the notion of space and b) define a theoretical and interpretive framework to address the behavior of social subjects taking into account the dominant accumulation2 regime of a specific national system.

Up through the mid-twentieth century, addressing regional issues in Argentina centered on quantitative and descriptive descriptions of political, economic and social phenomena. Interest in this field was apparently encyclopedic and shallow (see Ablet I Mas, 1993). The objectification of the concept of the region as a social construct was functional as a status quo. This position consequently was able to avoid problems related to the fundamental issue: the design of an interpretive framework that would include decision-making on what courses of action to follow to achieve significant levels of economic and social transformation.

In this way, one of the major issues when delimiting the region arose, because there was no methodology under which to define certain elements above others. Nor were the ideological precepts made explicit to support one delimitation in lieu of other possibilities. The unjustified lack of arguments for the delimitation may be a sign of the ideological concept behind it. The construction of a regional diagnosis of a supposedly “non-evaluative” description of reality was useful for the work of bureaucracies. However, it was not enough to advance with a consistent planning process, as it underestimated certain elements – that we judge necessary – by which the social, political and economic subjects responsible for decision-making in the framework of a specific accumulation regime and certain social relations in each space are identified and analyzed. Based on the limited information provided by this “non-evaluative” method of analysis questioned here, it was difficult to identify the capital accumulation process, how the set of productive units installed in each region were managed and the process of collection and distribution of economic surplus among the major social subjects involved in productive activities. In this way, the "region" was represented as an actor that generated a certain product or process and its features. Social subjects did not appear in great detail in the definitions, because the relevant aspect to consider was the added value, not who and in what conditions these items were produced. In summary, the question of power, its proper name, its mechanisms of reproduction, construction, distribution and circulation, were hidden.

Taking into account the critiques laid out up to this point, it is now relevant to set forth a structural recognition of regional issues, leading to a political discussion and revealing supposed opposition to technical arguments. In this way, a debate on notions of power and its relationship to notions of space would not only be possible, but also necessary.

This work consists of four sections. The first develops ideas related to notions of power and space. The second discusses problems surrounding overlaps between power and space, addressing the implications of acts of power and power relations on space using dimensions that this work calls the economic, political and social powers. The third section outlines a proposal for an alternative approach. Finally, the text concludes with some reflections on the challenges ahead.

*Assistant researcher at the Center for Urban and Regional Studies of the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (Conicet) of Argentina. E-mail: arielgarcia@conicet.gov.ar; **Principal researcher at the Center for Urban and Regional Studies of the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (Conicet) of Argentina. E-mail: rofman.alejandro@gmail.com

1 The process of a conceptual review is part of a research effort to explore relations of productive subordination in productive activities outside of the region of the Pampas in Argentina. This work is part of the pict 1928/2009 and pict 585/2011 projects, directed by Alejandro Rofman and Ariel García, respectively, financed by the National Scientific and Technical Research Agency, Ministry of Productive Science, Technology and Innovation in Argentina.

2 Acording to Neffa (2008: 236; cited in Nogueria, 2010: 3), an accumulation regime consists of a “growth scheme or model of a national economy in a given time period and grants equal importance to conditions related to production, profitability, salaries and sales of merchandise."

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PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 49, Number 194 July-September 2018 is a quarterly publication by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México, D.F. by Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas, Circuito Mario de la Cueva, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán,
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