. Within this debate, the neo-liberal assumption has been that wages are
most flexible and competitive where their determination is decentralised.
Different national models of wage determination are commonly contrasted in
policy documentation, and a competitive ‘benchmark’ established: ‘In most
countries where relative wages have been flexible (the US, Canada, UK,
Australia), both the relative employment and unemployment rates of the
unskilled changed little during the 1980s. In comparatively inflexible Europe,
on the other hand, both relative employment and unemployment
. (DeLillo, 2010: 101)
Those urges to capture everything, to mark nodes, ways and relations, to
monopolise movement cartographically, to laud diagrammatically over Witham
as Captain James Cook did so in Botany Bay, Australia (Carter, 1987); where
do these urges come from? In part, they stem from the discursive and cultural
baggage that has become welded to cartography; the discipline’s associations
with colonialism, monopoly and meta-narrative. Importantly, the focus of this
chapter on the experiential is not meant as a disavowal of other well-known
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OECD’s Jobs Strategy typifies the policy recommendations that accompany claims to a flexibilised and competitive labour force (see Table 1.1).
Intensified global competition, according to those advocating neo-liberal
flexibilisation, means that all state-societies must restructure along the lines of
this model. Indeed, in a report that compares the relative success of member
countries in implementing the Jobs Strategy recommendations, the OECD
identifies the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland as having
made ‘significant policy developments’ in the
continental European state-societies, unfavourably with the UK, US, Australia,
Canada and New Zealand, on the basis of its incremental restructuring programme ‘at the margins’: ‘Instead of relaxing general employment protection
provisions, some governments have preferred to introduce short-term contracts and liberalise employment protection for part-time workers in small
firms (e.g. Germany, France, Belgium)’ (OECD, 1997: 8). Despite some apparent
concessions to the discourse of flexibility, seen for example in greater
devolution of bargaining to the workplace and wage