CFP: 'Urban Hierarchies and the Financial and Economic Crisis After 2008/2009'

GaWC logo
  Gateways into GaWC

2018 American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting
New Orleans, USA
10-14 April 2018

Urban Hierarchies and the Financial and Economic Crisis After 2008/2009: A Relational Perspective on the State of Affairs

Alain Thierstein, Munich University of Technology
Michael Bentlage, Munich University of Technology
Stefan Lüthi, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts

The global economic landscape appears to be more dynamic than ever. The financial and economic crisis since 2008/2009 places a particular emphasis on the functional urban hierarchy of cities and regions. Several factors play a crucial role in the adjustment processes of cities and regions. Since the 1990s the knowledge economy is gaining importance and is now diversifying rapidly anew. New technologies and tools like data analytics spur digital transformation, automatization as well as industrialization of almost all services industries. Therewith, firms reorganize their localized value chains continuously in order to exploit agglomeration and network advantages. Several economic crises such as the Asian crisis (1997-98), the dotcom crisis (2001) and in particular the financial crisis (2007-08) have triggered exogenous shocks for firms and regions. At the same time, disparities within the world economy at least seem to remain high, as income levels diverge and public and private debts increase. The abilities of firms and regions to innovate, reposition themselves and generate knowledge become more diverse. Therewith, cities and urban regions are confronted with a breathtaking multitude of different structural and spatial driving forces.

‘Urban hierarchies’ represent a layering of relations of firms and people that aggregate to a position of an urban region within a network. Changes to urban hierarchies can be attributed to shifting inter-relationships of agglomeration economies and network economies at work. The importance of being close and being connected at the same time vary across time, spatial scales, technologies and institutional settings. Networked (knowledge) economies can be conceptualized in two ways. On the one hand, physical networks in the form of material and personal flows. On the other hand, there are non-physical, non-visible networks as in intra-firm and extra-firm connections of multi-branch multi-location firms. Changes in urban hierarchies, on supra-regional, national or global scale, are observable from at least two perspectives: the development of spatial structural attributes and the relations between cities and urban regions. Therefore, a combination of attribute based analysis and relational approaches helps to better understand the evolution of urban hierarchies. How are these constituent parts being interrelated?

This special session calls for papers that explore, analyze and visualize the changing patterns of urban hierarchies on different spatial scales. Advanced forms of data collection, methodical approaches and techniques of analysis and visualization are welcome.

This session calls for papers that contribute to the discussion to the following topics

  • Cross sectional and longitudinal analysis of changes of urban hierarchies, particularly in relation to the financial and economic crisis following 2008/2009
  • the production of knowledge and innovation in a spatial context and its respective spatial dynamics over time
  • methodological approaches to relational data and networks
  • theoretical and methodological reflections on the inter-relationship of agglomeration economies, network economies and the concept of proximity

We look forward to receiving proposals that make use of a variety of data sources, scales of analysis and methodological backgrounds. Interested participants should send expression of interest, questions and/ or title and abstract of 250 words or less to Michael Bentlage (, Alain Thierstein (, and Stefan Lüthi (, by October 25, 2017. Contributors will have to register for the conference and submit their abstract through the AAG website: Please forward your registration code (PIN) to us after you have submitted the abstract and paid the registration fee.