Territoriality and the National Infrastructure System
Chapter 6: Soft infrastructure
The notion of a state’s soft infrastructure is a relatively recent consideration within the field of infrastructure studies and beyond (see, for example, Turner and Johnson 2017). In some of its earliest conceptualisations (see, for example, Niskanen 1991), soft infrastructure is viewed as the core institutional framework that underpins the operation of an economic, political and/or social system. Overtime, this conceptualisation has evolved to stress the role of soft infrastructure as an enabler of hard infrastructure (i.e. transport, energy and information), with the former setting the frameworks and rules for the latter’s establishment, evolution and usage. The salience of soft infrastructure to national infrastructure systems (NISs) has only increased as these systems have morphed into polycentric systems under a mix of state and non-state ownership, but also as shifts in the form and volume of flows within and across NIS has reshaped usage. Initially this chapter will examine the emergent themes between territoriality and links between the soft and hard infrastructure systems. Thereafter the chapter moves on to focus upon two main themes on the soft/hard infrastructure interface namely usage and provision-based issues. The salience of soft infrastructure to the NIS reflects that the ability of hard infrastructure to function to the needs of the state’s territorial strategy requires an enabling institutional system comprising a set of rules (both formal and informal) that seek to shape activity over – and development within – the NIS to ensure its adherence to the state’s territorial objectives (North 1994). These rules operate as constraints
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