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Chapter 4 The changing character of small town Ontario: Transnational capital/labour flows in a not so globalized world

Globalization and the Time–Space Reorganization

ISBN: 978-0-85724-317-1, eISBN: 978-0-85724-318-8

Publication date: 24 February 2011


Canada's rural economy today is a dynamic source of economic growth and jobs are available in the natural resource extraction, manufacturing, agri-food and service sectors, yet despite this relatively favourable outlook, a profound socio-economic transformation is taking place. Within Ontario, the nation's largest and most economically diversified province and the focus of this study, the agri-food sector seeks new ways to deal with heightened competitive pressures and unstable commodity prices, in part by securing a relatively inexpensive and reliable labour force, while transnational auto-parts firms have looked increasingly to small town Ontario as fertile ground to transplant new ‘flexible’, niche manufacturing facilities. This multifaceted process has had a distinct impact on the regional economy, migratory labour flows and community social dynamics. As Harvey (1996) makes note, the effects of capital's re-spatialization have been uneven, and the state's role in this process contradictory, simultaneously facilitating capital mobility while regulating labour's (im)mobility (see also, Peck, 1996; Antonio & Bonanno, 2000). This chapter presents research findings and examines the impact of capital/labour flows on the changing character of three small communities in the heart of rural south-western Ontario – Bradford, Strathroy and Tillsonburg – with a particular focus on the conditions under which migrants and immigrants are socially included and excluded from the communities where they work. Based on these case studies, I argue that while small town Canada has managed to benefit partially from opportunities linked to a globalizing economy, the formal and informal means of socially incorporating this new transnationalized labour force is lagging significantly behind, reflecting in fact a regressive turn in Canadian labour-market regulation, while the concern for sustainable community development is largely ignored.


Bola Sousa, J.-P. (2011), "Chapter 4 The changing character of small town Ontario: Transnational capital/labour flows in a not so globalized world", Bonanno, A. and Salete Barbosa Cavalcanti, J. (Ed.) Globalization and the Time–Space Reorganization (Research in Rural Sociology and Development, Vol. 17), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 109-145.



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