Cases and Policies
Handbooks of Research on Clusters series
Edited by Charlie Karlsson
Chapter 16: Understanding Social and Spatial Divisions in the New Economy: New Media Clusters and the Digital Divide
1 Diane Perrons Economic inequality is increasing but has been sidelined in some of the recent debates in urban and regional studies. This chapter outlines a holistic framework for economic geography, which focuses on understanding social and spatial divisions, by drawing on economists’ ideas about the new economy and feminist perspectives on social reproduction. The framework is illustrated with reference to the emerging new media cluster in Brighton and Hove, which, as a consequence, emerges less as a new technology cluster and more as a reﬂection of increasing social divisions in the new economy. Economic inequalities are increasing spatially: among countries (United Nations Development Programme, 2005; Wade, 2001), among regions (Dunford and Smith, 2000; Edwards, 2000), among and within cities (Burgers and Musterd, 2002; Sassen, 2002) and socially among individuals (Atkinson, 2002; Milanovic, 2005). Yet, in many respects, economic inequality seems to have been sidelined in recent debates in economic geography and especially in urban and regional studies (Amin and Thrift, 2000; Antipode, 2001). Work by economists and sociologists on the new economy has, however, directly opened a space for analysing social and spatial divisions and could be developed by economic geographers to provide a richer understanding of uneven development among regions and social divisions within regions. The new economy is generally characterized by globalization, the increasing use of information and communications technologies (ICT) (Castells, 2001), the growth of knowledge goods (Quah, 1996), feminization, and new patterns of working, on the one hand, and deregulation, employment polarization and more...
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