New Horizons in Regional Science series
Edited by André Torre and Frédéric Wallet
Introduction: the role of proximity relations in regional and territorial development processes
Proximity analyses have nowadays turned out to be a part of the toolbox of regional scientists, and this notion has recently become very popular in the field of politics, and private or public stakeholders. Proximity is an argument for selling food or financial products, as well as a good slogan for local networks or social devices or even for policymakers. In parallel, the notion of proximity has spread in the academic literature and is now commonly used by scholars in regional science, geography and spatial economics. The use of the word proximity has increased and grown in importance, in particular for authors interested in the question of milieus, districts, distance analyses, or in recent advances in economic geography or evolutionary geography. Interest is now extending to works dedicated to innovation processes, links between science and industry, relations between users and producers or subcontractors, national systems of innovation, innovative milieus, and also local labour markets or urban policies. Indeed, the use of the concept of proximity, plural by nature through its spatial as well as non-spatial dimensions, is the key for overcoming the apparent opposition between the reaffirmation of the importance of the local and the death of distance and for escaping the sterile confinement in one or the other extreme positions. But despite the substantial literature on proximity processes and relations, only a few academic works have been devoted to studying the link between regional development and proximity relations.