Wood___Roberts_2011_Tradional_Economic_G

Since his time the distribution o f industry has

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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 (Barnes 2002: 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 economic actors. 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...
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This document was uploaded on 01/24/2014.

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