We apply a commodity systems analysis to examine a series of changes that are transforming Alabama's pulp and paper industry. Alabama is a critical area for investigation because it lies at the heart of North America's principle pulp and paper production zone. Industry restructuring is a complex process involving the reorganization of capital and corporate ownership, as well as changes in technologies, which affect the labor process. For example, a recent spate of corporate mergers has resulted in concentration of mill ownership and has accelerated the prevalence of sub-contracting. Indeed, the expansion of sub-contracting into new realms raises the fundamental question of what constitutes a core activity in this capital-intensive industry. The consolidation process has not proceeded in a unidirectional manner, however. For example, some corporations have expanded investments in forest land, while other firms have actively sought to divest themselves of direct ownership of such land, freeing capital for investment elsewhere. Placing Alabama mills in a broader regional context, we examine a set of environmental and economic pressures within the commodity system that have led to these changes.

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