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Proximity and localization

Abstract : The objective of this article is to pave the way for an analysis of the relations between proximity and localization of activities and people. Both notions are often mistaken for one another in contemporary literature, geographical proximity being de facto classified as co-localization. Our method consists in exploiting the semantic wealth of the notion of proximity. (I) We distinguish two types of proximity (geographical proximity and organized proximity) and propose a grid of analysis of the main models of geographic organization of activities by articulating both types of proximity. We then introduce the phenomenon of tension between geographical proximity and organized proximity in order to discuss problems that are often under-estimated in spatial economy. (II) Firstly, organized proximity offers powerful mechanisms of long-distance coordination which constitute the foundation of the increasing geographic development of socio-economic interactions. The confusion between interactions of information and knowledge exchange and the constraint of being located in proximity neglects the fact that the collective rules and representations of organizations do manage, and at a distance, an increasing part of these interactions. (III) We then show that there is a disjunction between the need for geographical proximity and co-localization of actors, by introducing professional mobility and temporary geographical proximity. We also emphasize the ability of big organizations to manage the presence in different areas of their units, so as to adapt to the temporal nature of the need for geographical proximity of these units whereas smaller organizations are more constrained by fixed co-localisations which are only needed for certain phases of their interactions. (IV) Finally, we raise the often neglected question of the negative effects of geographical proximity normally praised for its relational virtues. In the case of limited support-goods, geographical proximity creates tensions between the actors who use them and tends to damage the local relational fabric. In this case geographical proximity plays against organized proximity. However the negative externalities of geographical proximity can be limited by integrating them within organizations or institutions, that is through a re-composed organized proximity enabling one to solve conflicts and launch processes of cooperation or negotiation within ad hoc mechanisms.
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Submitted on : Monday, June 1, 2020 - 3:31:26 AM
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André Torre, Alain Rallet. Proximity and localization. Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 2005, 39 (1), pp.47-59. ⟨10.1080/0034340052000320842⟩. ⟨hal-02683567⟩



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