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Learning from conceptual flow in regional studies: Framing present debates, unbracketing past debates

Book or journal references : Regional Studies, vol. 40, pp. 385-399 (2006).

Author(s) : Lagendijk , A.

Abstract :

The field of regional studies is characterized by an intense flow of ideas and concepts, accompanying what can be described as a restless shifting of perspectives and approaches. Most of the inspiration for this dynamics is drawn from other disciplinary fields. Yet, the importation and translation of 'external' ideas is often criticized for resulting in rather haphazard and fuzzy conceptualizations. Moreover, rather than carefully assessing new ideas and insights in the context of ongoing debates on regional development, there is a tendency to sidetrack existing lines of debate and call for new 'turns' and 'perspectives'. Without playing down the importance of conceptual innovation, the paper calls for a stronger appreciation of our conceptual inheritance. Taking the genealogy of a dominant line of thinking in the field, the 'Territorial Innovation Models', as a starting point, the paper discusses how one can advance the debate by using both 'old' and 'new' ( internal and external) ideas regarding three core analytical levels in regional studies: micro, meso and macro. Recent ideas on relationality, in particular, are considered helpful in reassessing as well as refining the value of 'older' structuralist - institutionalist macroapproaches, and in situating the contribution from more recent debates on the ( micro) role of cognition and knowledge. Finally, a call is made for a careful absorption of sociological work to take into account the broader ( meso) institutional economic environment in which regions operate.

Keywords :

regional studies; economic geography; regulation approach; institutional approaches; cognitive approaches MOTOR SPORT VALLEY; ECONOMIC-GEOGRAPHY; INNOVATION; KNOWLEDGE; MARKETS; ACCUMULATION; INSTITUTIONS; PROXIMITY; NETWORKS; CLUSTERS