- New Horizons in Regional Science series
Edited by André Torre and Frédéric Wallet
Chapter 12: A challenging book: Regional Development and Proximity Relations
How does one conclude such a rich and inviting book integrating the history and epistemology of the concept of proximity, examples of the role of proximity in territorial innovations and development and debates on its use in regional policies? In 2013, it is still too early to design a new development model based only on proximity, despite the fact that each chapter is a new proof of the central role-played by proximity. Rather than providing a synthesis, I wish to discuss in this last chapter the new perspectives on proximity, distance and quality of life in modern societies. From A. Marshall's (1890) concept of agglomeration economies and industrial districts to Zipf's (1949) law of 'least effort' and 'rank-size rule', proximity is used as a concept for human adaptation to the distance between places. Moles and Rohmer (1972) 'human shells' widens the scope by including the values of places taking into account the closest as opposed to the outside and human perceptions. After Beckmann's (1968) founding definition of proximity in regional science, Tobler (1967) gave the first law of geography 'everything is related to everything else, but near things are more related than distant things'. This basic law, simple but realistic, is fundamental to understanding our behaviour in space, subsequently modified by the economic, social and cultural context and agglomeration forces (fixed costs, externalities . . .) For Krugman (1991) the clustering of economic activities in space provides evidence to explain increasing returns.
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