Reconfiguring Spaces: Understanding Economic Geography and Social Justice

This blog explores the intricate connection between economic geography and social justice and highlights the impact of spatial configurations.
Published in Social Sciences and Economics
Reconfiguring Spaces: Understanding Economic Geography and Social Justice

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Economic geography is a discipline that studies the location, distribution and spatial organisation of economic activities around the world. It explores how people's economic activities are influenced by their geographical environment and, conversely, how economic processes shape the landscape. This blog explores the complex relationship between economic geography and social justice. It shows how spatial configurations influence social inequalities and opportunities.

Central questions
How are economic organisations and relationships reconfigured spatially today?
The modern economic landscape continues to evolve under influences such as globalisation and technology. In particular, Michael Storper's book Keys to the City highlights the importance of urban regions as engines of economic growth and emphasises the shift towards knowledge-intensive economies. This change is clearly recognisable in the increasing spread of teleworking and the digital economy, as well as the migration of traditional production to lower-cost regions in Asia and Latin America.

What patterns of social inequality result from economic transformations?
Economic transformations often lead to unequal development and exacerbate social inequalities. In The Global City, Saskia Sassen discusses how global cities are becoming centres of prosperity that stand in stark contrast to the impoverished peripheries. This can be seen in the technology-driven prosperity in San Francisco and the economic stagnation in rural areas.

Exploring the geography of finance: Trends and transformations
The geography of finance has a significant impact on the economic landscape as financial activity concentrates in specific locations such as New York, London and Hong Kong, creating global financial centres. In Liquidated, Karen Ho shows how Wall Street practises shape economic expectations and realities, influencing even the most remote areas through financial policy and crisis management.

The impact of transnational migration on urban precarity and social inequality
Migration patterns driven by economic incentives are changing urban landscapes around the world. Cities such as Dubai and Singapore thrive on migrant labour, but this often leads to precarious living conditions for migrants and exacerbates social inequalities in cities. Doug Saunders' Arrival City offers insights into how cities are being reshaped by new arrivals, highlighting both challenges and opportunities for integration and growth.

Reimagining Changes for a Just World: The Role of Economic Geography
Potential solutions for a fairer world include the use of insights from economic geography. Planners and policy makers can use spatial analyses to better allocate resources and design inclusive policies. The work of Doreen Massey, for example, argues in favour of rethinking economic strategies spatially in order to effectively combat inequality.

This study has shown the complex interactions between economic geography and social justice. Through the spatial dimensions of economic activities, we can better understand and potentially mitigate the deep-rooted social inequalities in modern societies. Further research can be enriched by utilising the resources and academic work suggested below.


Spatial justice theory suggests that economic geography should be fair and equitable, considering factors like income inequality, access to services, and historical injustices. It suggests that economic development should not only increase GDP but also ensure all community members have access to its benefits. This could involve targeted investment in marginalized areas, reducing spatial segregation, promoting mixed-income communities, and addressing root causes of economic disparities like discrimination and lack of access to education and healthcare. By integrating social justice principles into economic geography theory, researchers and policymakers can create more inclusive and equitable economic systems that benefit all members of society, regardless of their location or socioeconomic status.

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