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Article: Territories and mobilities of firms of the italian fashion system      


Maître de conférences de géographie
Aix-Marseille Université


In the wake of the recent renewal of Italian social sciences research work, this article proposes to address the reconfiguration of relations between the firms of the Italian fashion system and their territory over the past two decades. Close ties of “made in Italy” SMEs with their territory, which initiated the «invention» of industrial districts, were challenged in the 1990s and even more in the next decade with the growth stall and the weakening of Italy’s position in the world trade. This deceleration, induced by the introduction of the euro currency, the expansion of free trade areas as well as by changes in the global production system, has impacted the whole industrial network of the country with an uneven intensity and now questions both the values and the resources on which the different regions had founded their development, particularly in the Third Italy.
But the recent acceleration of shifts is also the result of slower social transformations that changed the production conditions for these productive areas, and of intensive movements of people, know-how, goods and capital. The process of productive decentralization across the peninsula in the 1970-1980 decade gave way, from the 1990s onwards, to wider movements of production relocation towards countries in the close periphery. Meanwhile, the reversal of migration flows across Italy, which, once a land of emigrants, has turned into a country of immigration, is evidenced by the significant presence of migrant labor in industrial districts and by the emergence of a foreign entrepreneurship on Italian soil. It is through the prism of such fluxes, involving both persons and activities, that the deep renewal of the relationship between firms and territories according to varying tempos should be reassessed.

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