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  The forces of globalization are, allegedly, leading to the replacement of a \'space of places\' by a \'space of flows\' (Castells, 1996); to the \'de-territorialization\' of human (especially economic) activity. However, this view is based upon a deep misconception of the nature of social processes, all of which are inherently spatially structured and, most importantly, deeply embedded in place. In a variety of senses, all human activity is localized. At the most basic level, all activities — even those most often depicted as being hypermobile (such as finance; cf. money and finance, geography of) — are \'grounded\' in specific places. They require spatial fixedness in order to function, despite the undoubted fact that transport and communications technologies have increased the degrees of spatial freedom of human activity. Many phenomena (including both physical and human resources) are geographically localized, rather than ubiquitous, and have to be used \'in place\'.

One important reason for the geographical localization of economic activities is the existence of economies of agglomeration (the traded interdependencies which may exist between actors in close geographical proximity together with the provision of collectively accessible infrastructures; cf. economies of scale; economies of scope). More generally, however, the key localizing force derives from the essential \'socialness\' of human activities and the fact that such socialness is facilitated and enhanced by geographical proximity. Such untraded interdependencies are essentially socio-cultural. As Amin and Thrift (1994) point out, geographical localization facilitates three particular processes: (1) face-to-face contact; (2) social and cultural interaction — \'to act as places of sociability, of gathering information, establishing coalitions, monitoring and maintaining trust, and developing rules of behaviour\' (p. 13); and (3) enhancement of knowledge and innovation — \'centres are needed to develop, test, and track innovations, to provide a critical mass of knowledgeable people and structures, and socio-institutional networks, in order to identify new gaps in the market, new uses for and definitions of technology, and rapid responses to changes in demand patterns\' (p. 13).

Localization is, of course, a dynamic and not a static process. Places develop a specific history which reflects the complex articulation over time of localized cultures, institutions, and practices. Such structures characteristically evolve in a path-dependent manner which implies that, for example, the economy of a particular place becomes \'locked-in\' to a pattern of development which is strongly influenced by its particular history. (See, for example, Scott, 1995; Storper, 1997; Storper and Walker, 1989.) Such \'lock-in\' may be either a source of continued strength or, if it embodies too much institutional rigidity, a source of weakness. As Scott (1995, p. 57) observes in relation to regional economies:

the notion of path-dependence also implies the existence of critical branching points representing conjunctures where the regional economy may move in any one of a number of different possible directions (though once it has moved, its future is then to that degree committed) … the onward march of development in economically successful regions is always in practice subject to eventual cessation or reversal, not only because there are usually limits to the continued appropriation of external economies, but also because radical shifts in markets, technologies, skills, and so on, can undermine any given regional configuration of production. Indeed, the very existence of lock-in effects means that regions, as they develop and grow, will eventually find it difficult to adapt to certain kinds of external shocks.One of the most significant \'external shocks\' has undoubtedly been that of globalization. Having argued that the localization of human activities remains fundamental even in a globalizing world we must also recognize that such localized clusters are themselves deeply embedded within globalizing processes and structures. Without doubt, what happens in specific places is deeply influenced by processes operating at larger geographical scales. But it is mistake to see this is a one-way, top-down process in which the \'global\' determines the \'local\'. The scalar relationships are extremely complex and not unidirectional (see Amin and Thrift, 1992; Swyngedouw, 1997a, b). Indeed, we need to grasp the reality of a world made up of a multiplicity of geographical scales which, in extent, range from the global to the local (though not confined to these two extremes) but which are constituted in an intricate, simultaneous, and nested manner (Swyngedouw, 1997b). Swyngedouw has adapted the term glocalization to capture this \'rescaling\' of human activities. Such a term helps us to appreciate the interrelatedness of geographical scales and, in particular, the idea that while the \'local\' exists within the \'global\' the \'global\' also exists within the \'local\' (Massey, 1991). (PD)

References and Suggested Reading Amin, A. and Thrift, N. 1992: Neo-Marshallian nodes in global networks. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 16: 571-87. Amin, A. and Thrift, N. 1994: Living in the global. In A. Amin and N. Thrift, eds, Globalization, institutions and regional development in Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1-22. Castells, M. 1996: The rise of the network society. Oxford: Blackwell. Massey, D. 1991: A global sense of place. Marxism Today, June: 24-9. Scott, A.J. 1995: The geographic foundations of industrial performance. Competition and Change 1: 51-66. Storper, M. 1997: Territories, flows, and hierarchies in the global economy. In K.R. Cox, ed., Spaces of globalization: reasserting the power of the local. New York: Guilford, 19-44. Storper, M. and Walker, R. 1989: The capitalist imperative: territory, technology, and industrial growth. Oxford: Blackwell; Swyngedouw, E. 1997a: Excluding the other: the production of scale and scaled politics. In R. Lee and J. Wills, eds, Geographies of economies. London: Arnold, 167-76. Swyngedouw, E. 1997b: Neither global nor local: \'glocalization\' and the politics of scale. In K.R. Cox, ed., Spaces of globalization: reasserting the power of the local. New York: Guilford, 115-36.



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