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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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journal contribution
posted on 31.05.2016 by Allan Watson, Jonathan V. Beaverstock
From the late 1990s, the establishment of a new relational ‘turn’ in the study of world city connectedness in globalization 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 inter-city 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.

History

School

  • Social Sciences

Department

  • Geography and Environment

Published in

Tijdschrift voor economische en sociale geografie

Volume

105

Issue

4

Pages

412 - 426

Citation

WATSON, A. and BEAVERSTOCK, J.V., 2014. World city network research at a theoretical impasse: On the need to re-establish qualitative approaches to understanding agency in world city networks. Tijdschrift voor economische en sociale geografie, 105(4), pp. 412-426.

Publisher

© 2014 Royal Dutch Geographical Society KNAG. Published by Wiley

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date

2014

Notes

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: WATSON, A. and BEAVERSTOCK, J.V., 2014. World city network research at a theoretical impasse: On the need to re-establish qualitative approaches to understanding agency in world city networks. Tijdschrift voor economische en sociale geografie, 105(4), pp. 412-426., which has been published in final form at http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/tesg.12098. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.

ISSN

0040-747X

Language

en

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