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The Iloilo urban region : structural change, decentralization and employment in a Philippine secondary city Oabel, Patrick Vince


In recent years, the Philippine nation state has viewed the spatial decentralization of the economy as a way to raise income levels and promote development in depressed peripheral regions outside the primate city of Metro Manila. This follows a line of argument in the international political economy of urbanization that often expresses processes of capitalist expansion, and indeed processes of globalization, in terms of a core-periphery model where major economic decisions regarding development take place in the core urban areas of so-called "peripheral" nation states. A conceptual weakness of such a perspective, however, is that the application and viability of such policies inevitably becomes entangled with local class structures and the interests of capitalists at peripheral regional scales. In light of the importance of local level actors and factors, a class-based view of economic regionalization is required. This represents an alternative view to traditional coreperiphery thinking as it is a perspective that accounts for the role that local social class structures and elite social groups play in shaping processes of capitalist expansion in regional economies and cities with existing non-capitalist or pre-capitalist elements. This class fundamentalist view of economic regionalization is reflective of the story of economic development within the Province and City of Iloilo, an area located in the Western Visayas region of the central Philippines. This thesis argues that the failure of national spatial decentralization policies is only one of a number of agents responsible for the economic conditions found in the Iloilo urban region. By taking a historical structural examination of the province, it becomes evident that local social class structures, along with different spatial contexts of power relations and labour market segmentation, play important roles in manifestations of economic development, decentralization policy and forms of labour mobility in the urban region. Drawing upon interviews conducted at the household level in both urban and rural settings, I examine how these structural dynamics affect different families and their income generating strategies as they deal with the perpetual stagnation of local labour markets.

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