Wood___Roberts_2011_Tradional_Economic_G

Wood_Roberts_2011_Tradional_Economic_G

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Unformatted text preview: xt (see Rondinelli 1983 as o ne example). .. ~ ~ ::I Six years after Walter Christaller's book was published in Germany, a nd w ith W orld W ar T wo beginning, August Losch's (1906-45) The Economics o fLocation appeared in 1939. This weighty volume was 'written a mid privations a nd w ar' and, according to his biographers, Losch was a 'declared o pponent' o f t he Nazi regime who, sadly, died just as t he w ar e nded (Losch 1954: vii; F unck a nd P arr 1978: 1). Losch's book was translated into English in 1954 a nd was, like t he o ther theoretical works examined in this chapter, highly influential in economic geography i n the English speaking world. I n the preface t o t he first edition, Losch 'proposes t o view all economic activities geographically' (1954: xiii). Like m any h e was interested n ot o nly in explaining contemporary patterns o f location, bur in advocating a normative view o f w hat t he world s hould l ook like. H e wished to be able to determine the 'best location' a nd thus improve w hat h e called ' our sorry reality' (1954: Losch h oped e conomic geographers would be able to 'create' rather t han s imply 'describe,' although he was skeptical o f rigid planning systems, valuing the results o f individual rational decisions made freely (1954: 508). Losch's m ethod was to construct a model from the starting p oint o f individual decision makers. ] hus, for Losch, optimal industrial location is a m atter o f individual enterprises selecting the 'right' location which, for I,osch, means the location 'where the n et profit is greatest' (1954: 27). N et p rofit results from the interplay o f a great many factors, a nd Losch critiqued Thiinen a nd W eber for their one-sided models, working instead toward a compre­ hensive analysis o f l ocation. Losch's b ook takes o n ' economic regions' a nd ' trade' in addition to location. H is c ontributions o n regions begin w ith establishing t he hexagon as an appropriate model o f a m arket area. Losch's regional urban hierarchy is specified differently from that o f Christaller. For Christaller, a higher order place would offer all the goods o f t he central places below it in t he h ierarchy plus additional higher o rder goods. Furthermore, each center o f t he same order would offer precisely the same mix o f goods a nd services. LOsch argued that the K = 3, K = 4 a nd K 7 arrangements identified by Christaller were b ut three o f a vast range o f possible market area arrangements. I n fact Losch identified 150 different structures. Furthermore, combining the different market structures, each made up o f a network o f hexagons, produces a landscape in which certain sectors o f t he landscape are characterized by many higher order centers while other sectors are characterized by relatively few. Losch identified these sectors as 'city-rich' a nd 'city-poor' sectors respectively, although it is the number o f activities o r goods produced ~hich varies between t hem r ather t han t he actual number o f central places (Figure 2.12). O n this basis Losch's model allows for the fact that places at the same 31 TRADITIONAL LOCATION THEORY 32 TRADITIONAL ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHIES level i n t he u rban hierarchy will produce quite different combinations o f goods. The specification o f city-rich a nd c ity-poor regions also allows for the development o f sub­ regions with differing densities o f p opulation. I n effect, Losch developed a variable K model t hat was more flexible t han Christaller's K = 3 a nd so o n specifications and, as some analysts point out, Losch's more complex a nd flexible model w ith its rotating 'nets' o f hexagons could be said t o fit a greater n umber o f actual cases. Losch's b ook was to prove foundational for the eco­ nomic ( and urban) geographers o f t he later 1950s a nd 1 960s i n t he English speaking world. H is c ommitments to a general theory - to figuring o ut h ow space a nd t he laws o f economic behavior interacted - and to a geometrical a nd m athematical m ethod, were deeply influential. cursory acknowledgment, we see significant value in these theorists a nd t heir ideas, in p art t o u nderstand t he development o f the body o f knowledge k nown as economic geography. M ore b roadly though, they represent early a ttempts t o u nderstand a nd e xplain t he s patiality o f capitalism. H ow does the capitalist economy, whether rural o r u rban, agricultural o r industrial, relate t o space? W hat role does space play in the workings o f capitalism a nd w hat kinds o f spatial arrangements a nd flows are associated with its development? Such basic questions have never left economic geography. They still p rompt e conomic geog­ raphers a nd lie b ehind t he t remendous d iversity o f a pproaches t hat n ow characterize a nd enliven the field. EXERCISE 2.1 C ONCLUSIONS P resent day economic geographers c ommonly fail t o see the value in the contributions made by the early G erman l ocation theorists introduced in this chapter. O ur w orld is certainly very different from that o f each o f t he thinkers we have considered. Moreov...
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This document was uploaded on 01/24/2014.

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