Workers, economies, geographies
In his magisterial book Geographical Imaginations Derek Gregory (1995) usefully distinguished between the discipline and the discourse of geography. He argued that whilst the two had more or less mapped onto each other for over a century, this was no longer the case. The so-called 'spatial turn' taken by several social sciences from the mid-1980s meant that the discourse of geography was now extending beyond the discipline of that name. Moreover, it was extending, most notably, into fields where questions of identity and difference were central preoccupations - such as cultural studies, political theory and large parts of sociology. When Gregory was writing, labour geography was entering adolescence after a healthy infancy. It was still far too young a field to contribute meaningfully to any wider 'turn' towards questions geographical. But that is no longer the case. Today this now mature sub-discipline has engendered the kind of broader discourse that is a condition of possibility for this Handbook - a discourse that its editors and contributors seek to extend and enrich. In short, labour geography is no longer the preserve of professional geographers interested in issues of work and employment. However, unlike the discourse of geography to which Gregory referred in the mid-1990s, the discourse of labour geography involves fields where the economy is a central preoccupation (such as industrial relations and the sociology of work and employment).