Wood___Roberts_2011_Tradional_Economic_G

W eber w rote o f the enormous displacements o f his

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Unformatted text preview: ly grow poor i n h uman while others become saturated' (1929: 2). The highly uneven spatial development o f capitalist combined with the rapid growth o f urban centers intrigued Weber, b ut he disapproved o f explanations that rested o n 'cultural and social motives when perchance we are simply fettered the iron chains o f hard economic forces' (1929: 3). Weber was committed t o t he search for rules that governed t he' economic forces' he thought were responsible for the highly uneven spadal organization that he observed emerging d uring t he l atter part o f t he nineteenth century. His task was to explain the location patterns o f i ndustry in o rder ' to disclose the causal relationship between them a nd those large displacing processes which we observe' (1929: 3). W eber focused his inquiry o n t he locational patterns o f manufacturing i ndustry.lhe Industrial Revolution that started i n E ngland had spread t o t he continent and the in the organization and distribution o f economic activiry were widespread a nd dramatic, Weber's foclls o n m anufacturing o r p roduction, rather than distribution, consumption o r finance, was in part a reflection o f his context. But his selection was also a methodological choice: isolating and abstracting an aspect o f the economy in order t o analyze it; and it was strategic in that Weber t hought t hat i t was possible to build a general theory o f location from the locational principles t hat explained the distribution o f p roduction (1929: 5), M anufacturing industries h ad tended t o develop i n areas that were either in, o r close to, the sources o f raw materials, especially coal fields. H ence t he development o f the Krupp iron and steel works in Essen, o ne o f several centers in the R uhr area o f G ermany where coal mines f uded t he development o f heavy industry in the late nineteenth a nd early twentieth centuries (Figure Coal was crucial t o the generation o f steam power b ut a bulky inpUt to the production process. The markets for many industrial goods, norably textiles, were often auite distant from the coalfield industrial 2 .4 Krupp truck works, Essen, Germany, circa 1920 Source: Whitbeck 1934: 398. areas. W ith the advent o f an extensive a nd reliable rail service, industrial products could reach their markets far more efficiently than o n the carts ofThiinen's time o r t he canal barges that he anticipated (see 2.2). By 1909, the year in which he published his most famous work, Theory o fthe Location o fIndustries, G ermany, like other European countries (including Russia) a nd their colonies, were being k nit together by extensive railway networks. Coal and other inpUts could also be carried by rail to the factories, providing them with some flexibiliry to locate closer t o t he markets served. Given the inputs to industry, a nd the loeational flexibiliry granted development o f a rail infrastructure, Alfred Weber was interested i n a factory. T o t hat e nd, he developed a theory o f industrial location that very much reflected his context. Like Thiinen, Weber constructed a model that built o n certain fundamental assumptions. H e assumed an even (similar to ' lbiinen' s isorropic plain) with transport costs related only to distance, bur in contrast t o ' Ihiinen he posited several population centers. Unlike the 'raw material' for agriculture (crudely, land) which Thiinen assumed to exist everywhere a nd be the same everywhere terms o f fertiliry for example), Weber differentiated between ubiquitous raw materials such as air o r water and localized raw materials that were available only at certain locations. Weber assumed, however, that for any one localized raw material, its cost would be the same at any o f its sources. Like 'lbiinen, Weber sought statistical data with which to work. 'Ihiinen h ad the accounts a nd records o f his own estate; Weber had bur a fragmentary set o f data for Germany 21 22 TRADITIONAL LOCATION THEORY TRADITIONAL ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHIES and was clearly distressed by its pOOl' quality: '[wle need t o have before us the object with which we are dealing, clear and discernible, and particularly measurable, in all its 9). TIle desire for measurable or quantitative data has characterized much economic geography since Weber as we shall see in later chapters, the i&~ue o f their extent and quality has been an abiding concern. Weber's model is a least cost model o f i ndustrial location. In other words he assumed that the most rational the location for manufacturing is t hat characterized lowest costs. In this he followed earlier work by another German - Carl Wilhelm Friedrich Launhardt (1832-1918) - who in t he 18805 h ad published his own ideas regarding industrial location. Like Launhardt, W eber emphasized t ransport costs - assumed t o be a function o f weight a nd distance - both o f raw materials from their sources t o t he manufacturing plant, a nd o f finished products to market. In addition, W eber analyzed the efrects o f lahor costs. 'Their importance depended on the labor in...
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This document was uploaded on 01/24/2014.

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