Precarity, domestication and flexibilisation in the new post-industrial working conditions: Terrasa and Mataró as case studies.
This project attempts to analyse the social, economic and emotional changes that the new working conditions in the textile industry of Barcelona’s industrial area have caused in the population of the towns in this area. The study focuses on the lives of the female workers and ex-workers of the factories.
Because of their well-known socio-industrial history, Terrasa and Mataró were the perfect location for the two specific case studies. Both deal with the relationship between representation and the changes occurred in the working world, changes which seem to be inscribed within a larger process, that is, to a higher or lesser degree or particularity, a contemporary global process: the shift from a localised and hierarchized industrial production to one that is informational, reticulated and extremely flexible.
This documentary focuses on the phenomenon of dislocation, an effect that has been generated by the maximum optimization of transnational capital, which produces a deterioration of the working conditions not only outside of our European Economic area, but also within it. The video contrasts the media discourse, simplifying and victimist, with the words of the textile workers (local and immigrant) themselves. At the same time, the video highlights the fact that the informal economy in the textile sector (the illegal workshops) is not an effect of the last waves of immigrants into the country, but rather an after-effect of the restructuring of the sector during the 1980s. At that time many factories had to close down and were thereafter “domesticated”, subsisting in these modes of flexible production.
The video ends with a brief look at the future of these towns. They might end up as new centres of production within the “society of knowledge” (this is the case of Terrasa, which in investing in the audiovisual sector), or they might favour diversification and the implementation of new industrial technology, outsourcing part of their production (the case of Mataró). Both of these positions coincide in that they reutilise their industrial patrimony in such a way that the memory of the working class and the history of the mode of production that once built our cities, in the same way that these cities are today being designed for the future, is forgotten or concealed.
The last images of the piece (Birmingham and London) refer to certain latent models of these transformations. Some of these are very near and successful, such as the so-called “Barcelona brand”.