Politics and Practice in Economic Geography

Politics and Practice in Economic Geography

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by Adam Tickell

This is the first sustained discussion of methodological issues in economic geography in the last twenty years. It comprises an extended discussion of qualitative and ethnographic methods; an assessment of quantitative and numerical methods; an examination of post-structuralist and feminist methodologies; an overview of case-study approaches; and an inquiry into the… See more details below


This is the first sustained discussion of methodological issues in economic geography in the last twenty years. It comprises an extended discussion of qualitative and ethnographic methods; an assessment of quantitative and numerical methods; an examination of post-structuralist and feminist methodologies; an overview of case-study approaches; and an inquiry into the relation between economic geography and other disciplines. With short, accessible, and engaging chapters, this is a critical assessment of qualitative and quantitative methods in economic geography.

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SAGE Publications
Publication date:
Edition description:
New Edition
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

Professor Adam Tickell is Vice Principal (Research, Enterprise and Communications) and an economic geographer. His research interests span political and economic geography, and he is particularly interested in questions of political devolution, regulation, markets and money.

I seek to develop general explanations for the spatial organization and dynamics of economic activities in capitalist societies, and to determine how a geographical perspective illuminates such explanations. Economists recently have rediscovered economic geography as a place to apply economic theory, but my research shows that a proper incorporation of the spatial dimension of society challenges much of what economic theory tells us. A geographical approach can capture the complex evolution of economic landscapes and the various non-economic processes affecting economic change.
Geography has basic theoretical contributions to make to knowledge, not just empirical elaborations. I am interested in how geographers think about the world, and the changing philosophical and methodological disputes in geography. Good scholarship in geography must be grounded in an understanding of these issues, requiring familiarity with contemporary debates in philosophy and methodology outside geography.
I examine the geography of development at scales ranging from the global to the local. Development possibilities don't just depend on local (site) conditions; the interdependencies between places are just as important. The ability of local actors and institutions to effectuate change must be evaluated in this context, to avoid erroneously blaming local conditions and actions for local underdevelopment. I am concerned with human welfare and inequality; with how socio-spatial positionality shapes the conditions of possibility of livelihood practices. Underlying much of my research is a concern for the persistent and too often expanding social and geographic inequalities in society, for the processes creating these, and for what can be done to create more equitable societies and a greater respect for the non-human world. I have spent considerable effort promoting radical geography, where this theme is of central importance.
I have always been interested in the economic interdependencies between places (trade, investment, technology diffusion, information and migration flows). While a graduate student, I took up radical political economy as an approach to economic geography, co-authoring The Capitalist Space Economy with my first doctoral student, Trevor Barnes. I remain fascinated by the geographical dynamics of economic change at different scales, and how these are shaped by the rapidly globalizing capitalist world economy we live in. Currently, I am examining the role of trade, and free trade discourses in shaping global change, since Britain adopted free trade in 1846.
I have also long been interested in the evolution of geography as a discipline, its contested modes of inquiry, and its position as an academic discipline. For example, I co-authored a National Research Council study titled Rediscovering Geography, and co-edited a book of essays on scale across the discipline: Scale and Geographic Inquiry. I have closely explored and tracked the evolution of economic geography, and its contentious relationship with mainstream and heterodox Economics, co-editing A Companion to Economic Geography, Reading Economic Geography, and Politics and Practice in Economic Geography.
I study the two-way relationship between the development of geographic information technologies and social change. I have put much effort into promoting scholarship that transcends pre-existing divides between the geographic information systems and critical geography communities, catalyzing a new generation of scholars finding innovative ways to put these approaches into conversation with one another.
Finally, I have long been interested in the evolution of urban life, particularly the intersections between economic processes and urban politics. Cities must be understood not only as distinctive kinds of places, but as places that are penetrated by co-evolving with nature, larger scale processes and one another. Current research examines the emergence, in and beyond cities, of contestations that call into question the generality and influence of neoliberalism, recently co-editing Contesting Neoliberalism: Urban Frontiers.

Jamie Peck is Canada Research Chair in Urban & Regional Political Economy and Professor of Geography at the University of British Columbia

Barnes received hisPh.D.in 1983 atUniversity of Minnesotawith a thesis aboutThe Geography of Value, Production, and Distribution: Theoretical Economic Geography afterSraffa(supervisor:Eric Sheppard). He began his career as aspatial scientist. In recent years his interest has moved to the history of economic geography. His current projects concern: the history of geography’squantitative revolution;epistemological pluralismin economic geography; the institutional analysis of forestry (together withRoger Hayterand theSSHRC); andcreative industries.[1]

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Politics and Practice: Becoming a Geographer - Erica Schoenberger
Chapter 2: Smoke and Mirrors: An Ethnography of the State - Alison Mountz
Chapter 3: Nature Talks Back: Studying the Economic Life of Things - Paul Robbins
Chapter 4: Sexing the Economy, Theorizing Bodies - Linda McDowell
Chapter 5: Putting Play to Work - Geraldine Pratt and Caleb Johnston
Chapter 6: Of Pufferfish and Ethnography: Plumbing New Depths in Economic Geography - Elizabeth C. Dunn
Chapter 7: Method and Politics: Avoiding Determinism and Embracing Normativity - Andrew Sayer
Chapter 8: Cultivating Subjects for a Community Economy - J.K. Gibson-Graham
Chapter 9: A Public Language for Analyzing the Corporation - Philip O’Neill
Chapter 10: The Place of Personal Politics - Jane Wills
Chapter 11: Locating the Thai State - Jim Glassman
Chapter 12: Post-socialism and the Politics of Knowledge Production - John Pickles and Adrian Smith
Beyond Dualist Economic Geographies
Chapter 13: Hybrid GIS and Cultural Economic Geography - Mei-Po Kwan
Chapter 14: Evolution in Economic Geography? - David L. Rigby
Chapter 15: Beyond Close Dialogue: Economic Geography as if it Matters - Gordon L. Clark
Chapter 16: Economic Geography, by the Numbers? - Paul Plummer
Chapter 17: Methodologies, Epistemologies, Audiences - Amy Glasmeier
Mobilizing Economic Geographies
Chapter 18: Out of Africa: History, Nature, Empire - Judith Carney
Chapter 19: ‘I Offer You This, Commodity’ - Vinay K. Gidwani
Chapter 20: ‘El Otro Lado’ and Transnational Ethnographies - Altha J. Cravey
Chapter 21: Researching Transnational Networks - Philip F. Kelly and Kris Olds
Chapter 22: Reflexivity and Positionality in Feminist Fieldwork Revisited - Richa Nagar and Susan Geiger
Chapter 23: Researching Hybridity through ‘Chinese’ Business Networks - Henry Wai-chung Yeung

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