The region of Caxias do Sul is one of the most important industrial areas in Rio Grande do Sul state. In terms of added value, it is second only to the metropolitan area of Porto Alegre. Its economic relevance, based on sectors such as metal-mechanics, furniture and food-processing, has persisted even after the liberalization of trade in the 1990s in Brazil. In Brazilian Geography, the issue of industrialization and regional economic growth in non-metropolitan urban areas has been commonly theorized from the standpoint of the intermediate cities paradigm. This approach deals with middle-sized cities as if they posed unique problems, substantially different than those raised by metropolitan areas, and this premise justifies a distinctive theoretical and methodological procedure.The present research strives to analyze the problem of industrialization in Caxias do Sul from the standpoint of the theory of uneven geographical development, elaborated in its finest version by David Harvey. According to this theory, uneven geographical development is an expression of capitalist accumulation and stems from the tendency for the concentration of resources and wealth (productive forces) in nodal points in space which contrast with areas characterized by a less developed economic state. There is, therefore, a universal logic that pervades the different geographical scales of the reproduction of capitalist society, generating socio-spatial differentiations as immanent features of the dynamics of this society. This calls into question interpretations that fragment reality by assuming that a given scale poses problems of its own, separate from the totality. This research aims to understand the agents involved in the reproduction of Caxias do Sul as a relatively prosperous industrial area in Brazil. To do this, we will attempt to examine the industrial sector in the municipality of Caxias do Sul by bringing into focus the vulnerabilities caused by productive specialization, as well as the efforts made by different agents to improve the region's economic competitiveness in the face of an environment of sharp international competition. We will attempt to put special emphasis on local state investments in infra-structure and labor power qualification as key to maintain regional coherence. Finally, we will try to identify patterns of spatial localization and the chief causes of their occurrence.
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