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Article Summary

MacLeod, G., 2001. New Regionalism Reconsidered: Globalization and the Remaking of Political Economic Space. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 25.4 (December): 804-829(26).

This article, focused on the current debate over regional development, gives a guarded assessment of New Regionalist research. The goal is to examine how and why some areas have experienced sustainable economic growth and an increased political capacity, and why one scheme for growth may not work for every region.

New Regionalism describes the writings of scholars who highlight the region as an effective arena for placing the institutions of economic governance (807). New Regionalism is the study of how economic institutions are no longer managed best at the national level, due to globalization. It also includes the study of why some areas, such as Silicon Valley, have experienced such high levels of sustainable growth while other regions have undergone similar steps toward development and have not been as successful.

The greatest difficulty in studying the region is defining it. There is a fairly widespread conceptual vagueness in terms, making the region an elusive concept (811). MacLeod hopes that creating a new regional geography could insulate researchers from reifying the region and encourage them to highlight the wider network of political, economic and cultural processes out of which cities and regions are constituted and governed (812-813).

MacLeod presents a re-conceptualization of regional development and governance. Three key themes are emphasized. First, in most current academic inquiries, the region is seen as independent of social factors and politically neutral. MacLeod views this perception as clearly unsatisfactory. There needs to be an understanding of the complex processes out of which regions are historically constructed, culturally contested and politically charged (823). The reality is that the region is often a product of the social and political factors present.

Second, Jessops institutional-relational view of the state is an attempt at disentangling the political nature of the emerging regional world and the relationships between regions. Jessop maintains that it is the makeup of the region that determines the state political structure.

Third, there is a growing concern that globalization has reduced the centrality of the nation. MacLeod believes the state should be seen as the coordinator of globalization. States have a difficult time regulating international economies, but the region has continued to grow stronger. Therefore, the state should be there to help orchestrate regional entry into global markets.