The Relational Turn In Economic Geography

Authored by: James T. Murphy

The Routledge Companion to the Geography of International Business

Print publication date:  March  2018
Online publication date:  March  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138953345
eBook ISBN: 9781315667379
Adobe ISBN:


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Relationality – the notion that socioeconomic phenomena are constituted, transformed, and embedded in relations between people, materials, places, institutions, firms, and states – has been a mainstay of concepts, theories, and methods in Economic Geography since the 1990s. Navigating between individualist and structuralist accounts of economic processes, relational thinkers strive to bridge the agency-structure divide through research that provides a geographically and socially situated understanding of economic action/agency, one where subjectivities, intersubjective processes, and structural factors shape business decisions and the pace and direction of industrial/economic change. Inspired initially by heterodox economics and economic sociology, principally, relational economic geographers examine the socio-spatial embeddedness of economic activities and the ways in which economic actors (e.g., firms, entrepreneurs, etc.) develop multi-scalar relationships that influence significantly the development of innovations, firms, industries, and regions. Economic geographers have advanced relational thinking through studies of industrial clusters, regional economies, innovation systems, global production networks (GPN), markets, and entrepreneurship. Such accounts are explicitly geographical in that the context specificity of economic activity is a central concern – manifest in territorial or place-specific settings, the social spaces where interactions occur, and multi-scalar factors that shape outcomes.

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