Institutions, power and space: assessing the limits to institutionalism in economic geography

A. Cumbers, Daniel F MacKinnon, Robert McMaster

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    79 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Economic geographers have drawn upon concepts from institutional economics and economic sociology in recent years to understand processes of regional development within an increasingly globalized economy. In this paper, we assess the influence of this institutional 'turn' in economic geography and regional development studies. Two interrelated themes provide the focus of our critique. First, we emphasize the neglect of power and politics in relation to potential intraregional tensions and divisions and the effects of wider processes of uneven development and political-economic regulation. Second, we are critical of the tendency to reify the region over other geographical scales as an object of empirical enquiry and a site of policy intervention. In response to these short-comings, we conclude by emphasizing the need to rediscover 'a sense of political economy' (Martin and Sunley, 2001), suggesting that the potential of institutional approaches can best be realized by linking these to a reworked spatial political economy. While this will inevitably run up against conceptual and methodological difficulties given the differing origins and orientations of the two bodies of knowledge, such a theoretical synthesis could combine a sensitivity to difference, context and contingency with a stronger appreciation of the realities of uneven development and contested social relations under advanced global capitalism.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)325-342
    Number of pages17
    JournalEuropean Urban and Regional Studies
    Volume10
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2003

    Keywords

    • institutions
    • power
    • regions
    • scale
    • uneven development
    • REGIONAL POLITICAL-ECONOMY
    • TERRITORIAL POLITICS
    • LOCAL GOVERNANCE
    • CRITICAL REALISM
    • LEARNING REGION
    • INNOVATION
    • SCALE
    • STATE
    • PERSPECTIVE
    • CRISIS

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