The Political Economy of the Small Firm

By Charles Dannreuther, Lew Perren

© 2013 – Routledge

214 pages | 19 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9781138904644
pub: 2015-03-04
US Dollars$55.95
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Hardback: 9780415198561
pub: 2013-02-25
US Dollars$160.00
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About the Book

For many, small firms are everyday realities of the economy and visible in every high-street and industrial estate. Their existence and importance is unquestionable. Such beliefs are understandable, but the authors of this new book would suggest they are misguided. The Political Economy of the Small Firm challenges the assumptions regarding small firms that pervade society and political representation. Small firms are not organised into a homogenous sector that has a clear constituency or political influence. In fact, the small firm is shown to be an inconstant political construct that is discursively ethereal and vulnerable to political exploitation.

Fusing theories from political science, management and linguistics, Dannreuther and Perren assert that the idea of the small firm is an important discursive resource used by political actors to legitimise their actions, influence their citizens and help sustain regimes of accumulation. On top of this, the authors also empirically test their claims against 200 years of UK parliamentary debate, from the Industrial Revolution to the Blair government.

The political construction of the small firm is shown not only to provide rhetorical mechanisms to maintain periods of capitalist accumulation, but also to increase the relative autonomy of the state and to centralise power to elite politicians. For a period of 150 years up to the 1970s, the small firm was an unexplored presence, below the political radar and resonant with poor working standards and extreme forms of competition. During the so-called Fordist period from the 1930s, the small firm was seen as the dirty, out-dated, contrast to the clean, modern future represented by mass production and corporations. The perceived failure of Fordism led to the invention of the small firm and its presentation as an ideal political construct. By fabricating assertions of what small firms are and what they want, frequently out of conjecture, the authors of this book show how political elites have been able to advocate radical reformist agendas since the 1970s in the name of a phantom constituency.

Table of Contents

1. The Political Construction of the ‘Small Firm’ 2. Theorising the Political Economy of the ‘Small Firm’ 3. Constructing the ‘Small Firm’ 4. The Case Study: The ‘Small Firm’ Construct in UK Parliamentary Debate 5. The Exclusion of the ‘Small Firm’ 6. The ‘Small Firm’ onto the British Political Agenda 7. The Invention and Exploitation of the ‘Small Firm’ 8. Conclusions

About the Authors

Charles Dannreuther is Lecturer in European Political Economy at the University of Leeds, UK. His interest in small business policy has informed contributions to international political economy, regulation theory and European public policy.

Lew Perren is Professor of Management Research at the University of Brighton, UK. His research into management and entrepreneurship has tended to be interdisciplinary in nature, often drawing upon influences from linguistics, sociology and philosophy.

About the Series

Routledge Frontiers of Political Economy

In recent years, there has been widespread criticism of mainstream economics. This has taken many forms, from methodological critiques of its excessive formalism, to concern about its failure to connect with many of the most pressing social issues. This series provides a forum for research which is developing alternative forms of economic analysis. Reclaiming the traditional 'political economy' title, it refrains from emphasising any single school of thought, but instead attempts to foster greater diversity within economics.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUS000000
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / General
POL024000
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Economic Policy