PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2022, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (3): 461-476.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2022.03.009

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Relational economic geography and trade network research

WANG Wenyu1(), HE Canfei1,2,*()   

  1. 1. School of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
    2. Peking University-Lincoln Institute Center for Urban Development and Land Policy, Beijing 100871, China
  • Received:2021-04-14 Revised:2021-07-24 Online:2022-03-28 Published:2022-05-28
  • Contact: HE Canfei;
  • Supported by:
    Major Program of National Natural Science Foundation of China, No(41731278)


Trade network research originated from complex network science, and its study is related to the globalization research of economic geography. However, relational economic geography, engaging in globalization research and social network and network science, has hardly participated in trade network research. In response to this phenomenon, this article critically reviewed the origin, process, and achievements of the network paradigm of relational economic geography and examined the progress of trade network research, to rethink how relational economic geography should participate in the discussion of trade networks. This article presented the following findings: 1) The network paradigm of relational economic geography only borrows a small part of the concepts of social network analysis, and pays little attention to the overall structure of the network and its influence on collective behaviors. 2) Trade network research mainly discusses the structure and nature of trade networks through building topological network between countries, but relational economic geography based on the actor perspective (for example, enterprises and local agent) is difficult to use social network analysis methods. 3) Relational economic geography should attach importance to global cluster network, and rethink the economic geography foundation of the network concept and the research on the mutual coupling relationship of multi-dimensional networks. This article has implications for expanding the research fields of relational economic geography and for exploring the application of theories and new methods of economic geography.

Key words: relational economic geography, trade network, global production network, global-local interactions, social network analysis