Two week deadline again…and running up short. Making progress on my political-economy of world soccer article manuscript, but this leaves me short on the framebuilding stuff. Been thinking about it, though, and had hoped to build on the Braudelian markets vs. capitalism material from past two posts.
You can probably tell where I’m headed with that distinction: framebuilders tend to be “market” and the big brands/builders tend to be “capitalism”. The most important dimensions there seem to be the distinction between profits and growth as means to end vs. ends themselves. This introduces (for framebuilders) some interesting tensions around scale – concretely, how big is “big enough”, given the underlying market/livelihood motivations of many/most framebuilders? And, as discussed before and also centrally in my under-review article manuscript, scale (scaling up, mainly) is a big thing in the framebuilding world right now. Lots of builders trying it out, but this also looks a lot like deja vu all over again with scaling up of 80s and early 90s (following the commercialization of the mountain bike) ending in lots of consolidation and business closures.
The interesting thing is to think about profit and expansion motivation combined with scale of output. Certainly the ends of that spectrum are easy to conjure: the small builder with low growth goals will also tend to be low output (maybe only raising prices rather than building more) and the large brand (or brand conglomerate like Accell) will pursue both growing accumulation of profit and expanding output. The middle parts are the tricky ones, maybe still pursuing livelihood but expanding output (e.g. Breadwinner or Speevagen??) in that pursuit?
Anyhow, it all sounds ripe for more of a 2×2 analytical table. Maybe next time….