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Rethinking (New) Economic Geography Models: Taking Geography and History More Seriously


  • Harry Garretsen
  • Ron Martin


Abstract Two aspects of New Economic Geography models are often singled out for criticism, especially by geographers: the treatment of geography, typically as a pre-given, fixed and highly idealized abstract geometric space; and the treatment of history, typically as ‘logical’ time (the movement to equilibrium in a model's solution space) rather than real history. In this paper we examine the basis for these criticisms, and explore how far and in what ways NEG models might be made more credible with respect to their representation of geography and history, and particularly whether and to what extent the work of geographers themselves provides some insights in this regard. We argue that the conceptualization of space and time is in fact a challenge for both NEG theorists and economic geographers, and that, notwithstanding their ontological and epistemological differences, both groups would benefit from an interchange of ideas on this front. Réinventer les (nouveaux) modèles de géographie économique: comment prendre la géographie et l'histoire plus au sérieux Rèsumè Deux aspects particuliers des modèles de la nouvelle géographie économique sont souvent l'objet de critiques, notamment de la part des géographes, à savoir: le traitement de la géographie, généralement comme un espace géométrique abstrait prédéterminé, fixe et extrêmement idéalisé, et le traitement de l'histoire, généralement comme un créneau ‘logique’ (un mouvement vers l’équilibre dans un espace à solution du modèle) et non pas comme l'histoire réelle. Dans la présente communication, nous nous penchons sur le fondement de ces critiques, et nous examinons dans quelle mesure les modèles de la NEG pourraient devenir plus plausibles sur le plan de la façon dont ils représentent la géographie et l'histoire, notamment si le travail des géographes apporte de nouveaux éléments sur cette question, et dans quelle mesure. Nous soutenons que la conceptualisation de l'espace et du temps constitue, en fait, un défi tant pour les théoriciens de la NEG que pour les géographes économiques, et qu'au-delà de leurs différences ontologiques et épistémologiques, un échange d'idées sur ce sujet serait bénéfique pour ces deux groupes. Reconsideración de modelos de (Nueva) Geografía Económica: Tomando más en serio la geografía y la historia Extracto A menudo, existen dos aspectos particulares de los modelos de Nueva Geografía Económica que reciben críticas, especialmente por parte de los geógrafos: el tratamiento de la geografía, típicamente como un espacio geométrico abstracto altamente idealizado, fijo y predeterminado; y, el tratamiento de la historia, típicamente como un tiempo ‘lógico’ (el movimiento hacia el equilibrio en el espacio de solución de un modelo), en lugar de como historia real. En este estudio examinamos la base de estas críticas y exploramos hasta qué punto y de qué formas, los modelos NEG podrían hacerse más creíbles con respecto a su representación de la geografía e historia, y particularmente, si, y hasta qué punto el trabajo de los geógrafos mismos proporciona algún tipo de visión interna en esta cuestión. Discutimos que la conceptualización del espacio y el tiempo es, de hecho, un reto para los teóricos NEG y los geógrafos económicos, y que, independientemente de sus diferencias ontológicas y epistemológicas, ambos grupos se beneficiarían de un intercambio de ideas en este campo.

Suggested Citation

  • Harry Garretsen & Ron Martin, 2010. "Rethinking (New) Economic Geography Models: Taking Geography and History More Seriously," Spatial Economic Analysis, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(2), pages 127-160.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:specan:v:5:y:2010:i:2:p:127-160
    DOI: 10.1080/17421771003730729

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Maarten Bosker & Steven Brakman & Harry Garretsen & Marc Schramm, 2007. "Adding Geography to the New Economic Geography," CESifo Working Paper Series 2038, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Bernard Fingleton (ed.), 2007. "New Directions in Economic Geography," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 3818, April.
    3. Geoffrey M. Hodgson, 2006. "Economics in the Shadows of Darwin and Marx," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 3925, April.
    4. Richard Baldwin & Rikard Forslid & Philippe Martin & Gianmarco Ottaviano & Frederic Robert-Nicoud, 2005. "Economic Geography and Public Policy," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 7524.
    5. Brakman,Steven & Garretsen,Harry & van Marrewijk,Charles, 2009. "The New Introduction to Geographical Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521698030.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bernard Fingleton & Simonetta Longhi, 2013. "The Effects Of Agglomeration On Wages: Evidence From The Micro-Level," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(3), pages 443-463, August.
    2. Hassink, Robert & Gong, Huiwen, 2017. "Sketching the Contours of an Integrative Paradigm of Economic Geography," Papers in Innovation Studies 2017/12, Lund University, CIRCLE - Center for Innovation, Research and Competences in the Learning Economy.
    3. Robert Hassink, Huiwen Gong, Fabian Faller & Huiwen Gong, & Fabian Faller, 2016. "Can we learn anything from economic geography proper? Yes, we can!," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 1622, Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Group Economic Geography, revised Aug 2016.
    4. Martin, Ron & Sunley, Peter, 2012. "Forms of emergence and the evolution of economic landscapes," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 338-351.
    5. Jian Wang & Xiao-Ping Zheng, 2013. "Industrial Agglomeration: Asymmetry Of Regions And Trade Costs," Review of Urban & Regional Development Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 25(2), pages 61-78, July.
    6. Ron Martin & Peter Sunley, 2015. "Towards a Developmental Turn in Evolutionary Economic Geography?," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 49(5), pages 712-732, May.
    7. Halonen Maija & Vatanen Eero & Kotilainen Juha & Tykkyläinen Markku, 2015. "Industry life cycles of a resource town in Finland – the case of Lieksa," European Countryside, De Gruyter Open, vol. 7(1), pages 16-41, March.
    8. Copus Andrew & Dubois Alexandre & Hedström Moa, 2011. "Expanding horizons: local embeddedness and local engagement among small firms in the European countryside," European Countryside, De Gruyter Open, vol. 3(3), pages 164-182, January.

    More about this item


    New economic geography; proper economic geography; history; geography; R1; B4;

    JEL classification:

    • R1 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics
    • B4 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology


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