This preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.
Unformatted text preview: d parents grew up with came from different
places than those associated with the products that you buy
and use. For example, the shift o f US T -shirt manu
from the US South to the Caribbean and Central
America in the 1980s and then t o Asia more recently is a
reflection o f the industry's h unt for low labor costs,
although other factors such as trade agreements have also
been at work. I he rise o f China as a global manufacturing
is also based o n the logic o f low costs o f production
outweighing transport costs - a classic Weberian scenario.
Weber's influence is also felt in the policy domain,
local, regional a nd even national development plans have
centered o n attracting industry by offering lower costs. So,
for example, many locations in poorer countries, such as
tbe free trade w nes in Asia o r Central America, compete
ror manufacturing plants based o n low costs - especially o f
labor (Box 2.1). O ther locations may attempt to attract
energy intensive industry by offering comparatively low
electricity costs, for example; o r an industrial park next t o
a major highway can boast o f offering reduced transport
costs, 1hese strategies, based o n offering lower costs t o
as a Iocational 'pull,' reflect the fundamental
insights o f Weber. '1 hey stand in stark contrast t o alterna
tive development strategies based o n n urturing local
entrepreneurs for example, o r building up certain skill sets
and upgrading the local labor pool. As we demonstrate in
7 there is a veritable array o f development
that can be tracked to quite different conceptions o f the way
that economic geographies are produced and structured. I n
Weber's case the low costs provide the key stimulus. WALTER CHRISTALLER
W alter Christ aller's ( 1893-1669) book, Central Places in
Southenl Germany was published in 1933, the year Hitler's
National Sot (N;uJ) Party was elected to power. I n
it Chris taller laid o ut his theOlY o f t he distribution o f
settlements (towns and villages), known as central
Christaller himself joined t he Nazi Parry in 1940 a nd found a position working in the Planning Office
directed by Himmler. In this job, Chris taller applied his
central place theOlY t o the formulation o f urban
o f the countries that Germany had invaded. H e drew up
elaborate schemes for Poland in particular, As e conomic
geographer Trevor Barnes has remarked, this makes
reading Christaller's book somewhat 'disconcerting and
Christaller was interested in the spatial patterning
associated with the distribution o f towns and cities and the
causes o f those patterns. I f you have ever looked at a map
and wondered why the towns and villages are where they
are and how they relate to one another, or i f you have had
the chance t o look o ut o f an airplane window and wonder
about the pattern o f settlement you see below, you have
probably asked yourselr the same sorts o f questions.
Cbristaller asked, in the introduction to his book, 'how can
we find a general explanation ror the sizes, number, and
distribution o f towns? H ow can we discover the laws?' H e
believed 'tbat there is some ordering principle heretofore
unrecognized that governs their distribution' (1966; 2), H e
sought, therefore, to identifY the 'special economic
geographical laws' at work (1966: 3). Chris taller ad mired
the methodological approach o fWeber , and like him, devel
oped a theory based on simplification and abstraction which
was tben carefully made more complex by the systematic
incorporation o f factors from 'reality' ( I 966:
Christaller postulated that centralization is a governing
principle o f human settlement, a nd he refers to towns and
cities as 'central places' emphasizing their functional
t o t heir hinterland. Larger towns are
order' central places a nd small villages are 'lowest order'
central places, insofar as they are in relation to each other.
like Th(inen a nd W eber, he started w ith t he
assumptions o f the isotropic plain a nd individual rational
However, while both ThUnen a nd W eber were focused
o n p roduction, Chris taller focused o n the consumption
o f goods. Central places, for Christaller, are fundamentally
understood as retail centers; places where 'central goods,'
which could be either material things or intangible services,
are sold. A~ h e p ut it: ' the c onsumption o f central
is decisive in the development ofcentral places'
Each good o r service has its own threshold or m inimum
level o f d emand needed t o m aintain its provision and its o wn range, which he defined as the 'distance up to which
the dispersed population will still be willing to purchase
a good offered at a central place' (1966: 50). This decidedly
b ut p owerful insight makes intuitive sense.
Consider your own shopping behavior for example. H ow
far do you travel to purchase a lower order good such as
hread o r milk? H ow fur do you travel to shop for clothes?
H ow a bout for higher order goods such as a c omputer or
a car? T he threshold and range f...
View Full Document
This document was uploaded on 01/24/2014.
- Winter '14