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Scale, Social Production of

  • By: John Harrison
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

One of geography's core ideas, scale has become a hotly contested, even chaotic, concept. Until the 1980s, scales (such as the national or regional scales) were frequently employed, but little time was devoted to theorizing scale itself. Scale was a taken-for-granted concept used to impose organization and order on the world. A much vaunted “scale debate” emerged during the 1980s, developed through the 1990s, and erupted in the early 2000s. The debate centers on whether scale is a mental device for categorizing and ordering the world or whether scales exist as material social products.

A Marxist “theory of Scale”

Linked to processes of globalization, localization, and regionalization, scale became a fundamental concept for political geographers in the 1980s. The works of Peter Taylor and Neil Smith were ...

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