The Death of Distance?

Networks, the Costs of Distance and Urban–Rural Interdependence

Authored by: Bruce A. Weber , David Freshwater

Routledge International Handbook of Rural Studies

Print publication date:  May  2016
Online publication date:  May  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138804371
eBook ISBN: 9781315753041
Adobe ISBN: 9781317619864


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Remarkable advances in information and communications technologies (ICT) in recent decades have dramatically affected spatial economic relationships, including opportunities for development in rural areas. Two particularly important ways in which ICT has changed spatial economic relationships are through changes in the costs of distance and through the expansion of networks. The ‘death of distance’ hypothesis suggests that with falling transport and information costs rural areas may no longer be at a disadvantage when it comes to producing many goods and services because it is now relatively cheaper to get rural goods to urban markets domestically and internationally. 1 ICT has also led to improvements in the magnitude and scope of networks affecting the distribution of jobs and people across the entire settlement system. Indeed, it has been argued that the growth of networks has fundamentally changed societies (Castells & Cardoso, 2006) and economies (Shapiro & Varian, 1999). Both of these developments mean that rural and urban areas are more strongly connected now than in the past.

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