Call for Papers RGS-IBG Annual Conference September 1-4, 2020, London, U.K.
https://nam10.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.rgs.org%2Fresearch%2Fannual-international-conference%2F&data=02%7C01%7CECONOMICGEOGRAPHY-L%40LISTSERV.UCONN.EDU%7Cd1f04f0fb02a4403ebeb08d79fd8d517%7C17f1a87e2a254eaab9df9d439034b080%7C0%7C0%7C637153625965230804&sdata=2wdsLvJtP26zExu%2BDeBIinEYKhRoLvOoxdmi6pEvV%2BQ%3D&reserved=0 Aligning theory and method in economic geography Organizers: Huiwen Gong1, Roel Rutten2, Robert Hassink1 1 Kiel University, Department of Geography, Kiel, Germany; email: <mailto:g...@geographie.uni-kiel.de> g...@geographie.uni-kiel.de, <mailto:hass...@geographie.uni-kiel.de> hass...@geographie.uni-kiel.de 2 Tilburg University, School of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Tilburg, The Netherlands; email: <mailto:r.p.j.h.rut...@uvt.nl> r.p.j.h.rut...@uvt.nl Related to a panel session on "Theorizing in Economic Geography" (organized by Huiwen Gong & Robert Hassink), in this paper session, we discuss the (mis)alignment of theory and method in economic geography. Economic geography is a field vibrant in developing new topics and ideas. However, the diversity of approaches, methods and methodologies, philosophical foundations, and practices has led to a situation where economic geographers are often talking past each other because researchers' (implicit) assumptions on how social reality works and the nature of causality do not match. As correctly observed by Barnes and Christophers (2018) in a recent book, this phenomenon can largely be attributed to a "don't ask, and don't tell" (ibid, p.132) culture in economic geography. In order to counter this "don't-ask-don't-tell" culture, we argue that researchers must be explicit about the assumptions they buy into when they are making causal claims. The reluctance of economic geographers to explicitly align theorizing and method creates two important problems. (1) A misalignment of (implicit) assumptions on the nature of social reality and causality makes it very difficult for researchers to effectively communicate their results across research projects. (2) As argued, theorizing in economic geography is very diverse but empirical research most often still follows the mainstream approach of identifying net-effects of independent variable. This produces a misalignment between the theorizing and methods within a research project. We further observe that, in economic geography, theorizing has become a task/interest of a small group of scholars who often fail to explain the methodological implications of their theorizing, while much empirical work uncritically follows mainstream, variable-based method regardless of whether they fit the theory used. Theory and method must be aligned for theory to sensibly inform empirical research and for empirical research to sensibly inform theory development. To achieve this alignment in economic geography and to prevent economic geographers from "talking past each other", our discipline needs to explicitly engage with the philosophical underpinnings of the theories and the methods that we use. Additionally, extra care needs to be paid to the role of the specific context and conditions in which researchers are doing research on. Instead of following the dominant "don't ask, and don't tell" theorizing culture, in this session, we encourage scholars to talk openly about the methodologies and philosophies that make their work what they are, the key concepts and notions that are used in their research, as well as to reflect upon the way in which they theorize in general. As an example, we point at the renewed interested in critical realism in economic geography (Yeung 2019) and the introduction of QCA (Qualitative Comparative Analysis) (Rutten 2019). Put differently, in order to align theory and method, economic geography needs a discussion about the different ontologies underlying our discipline and their epistemological implications. Specifically, we welcome empirical and theoretical contributions that deal with, but are not necessarily constrained to the following questions: 1. What is the role of context (space-time- contingent) in theorizing regional economic development outcomes? How do economic geographers navigate between the divergent appeals of particularity and generality? To what extent has the emphasis on empirical generalizations disconnected theorizing and explanation from context? ( <https://nam10.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Facademic.oup.com%2Fcjres%2Fpages%2Ftheorising_urban_regional_research_cfp&data=02%7C01%7CECONOMICGEOGRAPHY-L%40LISTSERV.UCONN.EDU%7Cd1f04f0fb02a4403ebeb08d79fd8d517%7C17f1a87e2a254eaab9df9d439034b080%7C0%7C0%7C637153625965230804&sdata=mpXjt3d2fSJ%2FpmAtx%2F%2FHz5ltFi2WCf9ITGMuS%2BAJFYM%3D&reserved=0 > https://nam10.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Facademic.oup.com%2Fcjres%2Fpages%2Ftheorising_urban_regional_research_cfp&data=02%7C01%7CECONOMICGEOGRAPHY-L%40LISTSERV.UCONN.EDU%7Cd1f04f0fb02a4403ebeb08d79fd8d517%7C17f1a87e2a254eaab9df9d439034b080%7C0%7C0%7C637153625965230804&sdata=mpXjt3d2fSJ%2FpmAtx%2F%2FHz5ltFi2WCf9ITGMuS%2BAJFYM%3D&reserved=0) 2. What kind of concepts and theories are popular in economic geography? What are the pros and cons of importing theories and concepts from neighboring disciplines? How do economic geographers contribute to the theorizing and re-theorizing of such concepts/theories? 3. What are the philosophical underpinnings of different research perspectives (e.g., evolutionary, institutional, geographical political economy, relational, feminism, alternative economy perspectives, etc.) in economic geography? How do each stream's ontology, epistemology, methodology, and methods interrelate? 4. What kind of new methods are currently developed in or introduced to economic geography (e.g., Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA), big data, Discourse Network Analysis DNA, etc.)? How do the philosophical/ ontological assumptions of these methods differ from mainstream, variable-based methods, how do these new methods contribute to our understanding of divergent economic development outcomes in space, and how can they contribute to aligning theory and method in economic geography? Please send abstracts to <mailto:g...@geographie.uni-kiel.de> g...@geographie.uni-kiel.de by Feb 7th 2020 (notification of abstract acceptance: Feb 10th 2020) References Barnes, T. and Christophers, B. (2018). Economic geography: A critical introduction, Chichester: Wiley Rutten, R. (2019). Openness values and regional innovation: A set-analysis, Journal of Economic Geography, 19(6): 1211-1232. Yeung, H. (2019). Rethinking mechanism and process in the geographical analysis of uneven development, Dialogues in Human Geography, 9(3): 226-255.