Chapter 2: The Location of Economic Activity: Central Place Theory and the Wider Urban System
2. The location of economic activity: central place theory and the wider urban system John B. Parr University of Glasgow, UK 1. INTRODUCTION As will be apparent from its title, this chapter considers the question of industrial location within the context of the urban system. Indeed, the notion of the urban system (its structure and development) will form the central focus of the discussion. However, in contrast to a number of other chapters in this volume, the question of industrial location will not be conﬁned to manufacturing activity. When we talk about the ‘urban system’, we are focusing attention on the collectivity of urban centres within a deﬁned territory (for example a region or a nation) and the interrelationships among these centres. Such a perspective is a relatively new one, which emerged between the two world wars. Before this the usual focus was either on the individual city or on cities in cross-sectional terms, including how various economic and social phenomena varied with city size. The urban-system perspective thus provides a complementary view of the urban realm, and one which is ultimately more powerful than the previous two. It may be useful at the outset to consider the broad dimensions of the urban system. These have been discussed in some detail by Reiner and Parr (1980) and are summarized as follows: ﬁrst, the size of the various urban centres and the nature of their size distribution; second, the location of urban centres in space, whether an abstract economic...
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