Invisible Factories

The Informal Economy and Industrial Development in Spain

By Lauren A. Benton

Subjects: Anthropology Of Work
Series: SUNY series in the Anthropology of Work
Paperback : 9780791402245, 231 pages, July 1990
Hardcover : 9780791402238, 231 pages, July 1990

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Table of contents

List of Tables




1. Industrial Restructuring and the Informal Economy
2. Unregulated Labor in Democratic Spain


3. High-Tech Cottage Industry? Productive Decentralization in Madrid's Electronics Industry
4. Sweating for Export: "Underground" Labor in the Spanish Shoe Industry


5. At Home in the Informal Sector: Gender and Industrial Outwork
6. The Rise of the Workers' Movement and the Politics of Production


7. National Pacts and Alliances: The Political Response to Informalization
8. Some Reflections on the Informal Sector and Capitalist Development





Invisible Factories analyzes the role of the informal economy in national development and weighs alternative claims about its impact on industrial development. Detailed case studies of the electronics and shoe industries in Spain demonstrate the restructuring process. Benton examines the transformation of ideas about work and gender, the shifting lines of conflict between workers and employers, and growing tensions between national and regional interests. She shows that these elements of the workplace and national politics, rather than the logic of economic development, command the new industrial order.

Benton asks how decentralization of production has affected workers, industrial growth, and the recasting of industrial policy. Explored in depth are the plight of women outworkers, the history of regional labor conflicts, and the evolution of national-level bargaining among unions, employers, and the state.

Lauren Benton, formerly Assistant Professor of Urban Studies and Developing Areas at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, now consults on projects related to employment and education.


"This work represents a major contribution to the study of processual and comparative economics. It is also a very important addition to our knowledge and understanding of the political and economic problems faced by Spain and by Spanish institutions in the post-Franco era. I am very impressed by the quality of the research, including the work done in the field and the models utilized to shed light on polity and economy in Spain. This is unquestionably a book of superior scholarship. Polished, organized, logically consistent. " — Oriol Pi-Sunyer, University of Massachusetts at Amherst