World city network research at a theoretical impasse: On the need to re-establish qualitative approaches to understanding agency in world city networks

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Abstract

From the late 1990s, the establishment of a new relational ‘turn’ in the study of world city connectedness in globalisation has run parallel to the wider relational turn occurring in economic geography. Early work, built firmly upon a qualitative approach to the collection and analyses of new intercity datasets, considered cities as being constituted by their relations with other cities. Subsequent research, however, would take a strong quantitative turn, best demonstrated through the articulation of the inter-locking world city network (ILWCN) ‘model’ for measuring relations between cities. In this paper, we develop a critique of research based around the ILWCN model, arguing that this ‘top down’ quantitative approach has now reached a theoretical impasse. To address this impasse, we argue for a move away from structural approaches in which the firm is the main unit of analysis, towards qualitative approaches in which individual agency and practice are afforded greater importance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)412-426
Number of pages14
JournalTijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie
Volume105
Issue number4
Early online date9 Sep 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2014

Structured keywords

  • Urban Research Cluster
  • MGMT theme Inclusive Economy

Keywords

  • World city networks
  • inter-locking network
  • qualitative methods
  • relational economic geography
  • agency
  • practice

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