PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2012, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (4): 412-418.doi: 10.11820/dlkxjz.2012.04.003

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Comparisons between Relational Paradigm and Evolutionary Paradigm of Western Economic Geography

MA Haitao   

  1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
  • Received:2011-06-01 Revised:2011-07-01 Online:2012-04-25 Published:2012-04-25

Abstract: For over 20 years, many kinds of theory paradigms, such as those from the Western economic geography, have offered multi-dimensional angles of views for explaining the phenomena of new economic activity space. Among them, the research on relational paradigm and evolutionary paradigm is especially active. Both relational paradigm and evolutionary paradigm try to establish their own theoretical frames. There are lots of similarities between them in some theoretical supposition. However, there have been relatively few comparative studies between them. Relational paradigm and evolutionary paradigm originated in the mid- and late 1990s, they have similar core assumptions against neoclassical paradigm, and both are concerned about the process of corporate behavior and corporate relations, focusing on formal and informal institutions of economic behavior. Two paradigms of economic geography have subtle differences in explaining some of their core issues, such as assumptions about the decision-making of firms, the spatial evolution of sectors, and the convergence or divergence of spatial systems. But on the whole, they are complementary to each other in advancing the interpretation of the issues. In addition, one method can be integrated with another for there are mutual influences and mutual tolerance in the between the two paradigms in the process of theory building. Of course, there are mutual criticisms between the two of them, but it is such differrences in arguments that have promoted the western theory of the rapid development of economic geography. Finally, with the combination of domestic development of economic geography theory, the paper puts forward two suggestions. One is that we should have in-depth understanding of various theoretical contents of western geography and enhance the construction of domestic economic theory. The other is that we can integrate multiple theoretical paradigms of western economic geography for solving practical problems in domestic economic development.

Key words: a comparative study, evolutionary paradigm, relational paradigm, western economic geography