Policies, and Regional Differentiation:
The Case of the United Kingdom
There is widespread agreement that the character of contemporary capitalism has shifted in significant ways, but there is much less agreement about the theoretical and political significance of these changes. This is registered in the number of competing scenarios, such as those claiming a transition to late capitalism, 1 late modemity, 2 reflexive modernity, 3 or postmodemity. 4 A common thread running through these competing accounts, however, is a recognition of the dramatic reduction in the tyranny of distance, of a world in which time-space has shrunk dramatically (albeit very unevenly) as a result of technological innovations in transport and communications, especially information technologies. This in turn has been associated with related claims about the transition to a global political economy and processes of globalization, and these claims implicitly or explicitly relate to debates about changes in the regulatory capacities of national states and debates about the "hollowing out" of national states -- upwards, downwards, and sideways. 5 The collapse of the Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates between national currencies is seen as a particularly critical moment in the transition toward a global economy, since this had profound implications for the national regulation of national economies. One of the particularly important aspects of the "upward" move by the regulatory powers of national states has been the creation of macroregions, such as NAFTA and the EU, as a result of agreements between national states. These have been critical formative moments in the emerging macrogeography of globalization.