Academic journal article Journal of Economics & Management

Crisis and Geography: Some Observations on Peripheral Europe 1

Academic journal article Journal of Economics & Management

Crisis and Geography: Some Observations on Peripheral Europe 1

Article excerpt

Introduction

As the title reflects, the main purpose of this study is to draw attention to the relevance of geography to the ongoing crisis in Europe in general and within the Eurozone in particular. The question which we will try to answer is as fol1 lows: Given the fact that the crisis is felt much strongly in peripheral areas/ /countries, what is the role of geo-economic/geopolitical factors in the structural differences between the central and peripheral areas of continental Europe? As this question implies, while the essential context of the research is determined by the disciplines of geo-economics and geo-politics, we will try to address this question by drawing on historical-comparative methodology. Historical part of the methodology will involve a diachronic approach on a time span stretching from antiquity to the recent past, focusing on the turning points in the evolution of European geopolitics and geo-economics. Key concepts, which will be referred to at this stage will include "core-periphery dichotomy", "hubs", "centres of gravity", "centrality" and "isolation". With this approach, it is intended to investigate the structural factors which lay at the very basis of peripherality. Needless to say, these involve the geographic characteristics of peripheral countries, which hardly change over time. This methodological framework brings about a few secondary questions originating from the aforementioned main research question, which are as follows: is the well-known discourse of "north-south divide" relevant and applicable to the European integration and can it correspond to the core-periphery distinction in the continental Europe?; or does the core-periphery dichotomy in Europe has a much more complex geo-political and geo-economical background?; how do the patterns of peripherality of certain countries such as Ireland, Portugal and especially Greece converge and differ?

Possible answers to these questions will be searched by means of two main reference points: firstly, the core-periphery dichotomy and its wider implications for European geo-economics and geopolitics; secondly, the so-called "faultlines in Europe". By "faultlines", we mean the geopolitical, geo-economical and geocultural factors of dichotom(y/ies), which can all be traced at geographical level, on the north-south, east-west and southeast-northwest axes.

In so doing, we will try to assess the role of geography in the crisis, and try to ascertain whether geography can be regarded as an underlying structural factor in the crisis-stricken peripheral areas. The analysis will focus on the case of Greece in particular, as it differs in many respects from other peripheral tries in As will be seen below, while referring to the core-periphery dichotomy, some studies do imply the role of geography in an implicit and indirect way. Nevertheless, analyses focusing directly on the role of geography seem to be quite scarce. Therefore, the analysis here will focus on the geo-economic and geopolitical dynamics that might be interfering with the overall economic performance. For this purpose, firstly the so-called core-periphery dichotomy and the concept of "centrality" will be re-visited, in order to set up the conceptual framework of the analysis attempted in this paper. Then, the so-called faultlines faultlines in Europe will be reviewed, in order to ground the arguments on geo-economic and geopolitical factors lying behind the core-periphery dichotomy. At this stage, particularities of Greece will also be clarified. Then, the case of Greece will be visited in more detail; trying to explain the way factors stemming from economic and political geography influence this country's economic performance. In the end, it will be argued that in the process peripheralization, political and economic balkanization is more decisive than the conventional arguments on core-periphery dichotomy, but in all cases, geography seems highly relevant.

1. Core-periphery dichotomy and centrality

In case of a country or a region, and especially as far as an empirical study is concerned, identifying the core and periphery areas is a challenge in itself [Maseland 2014, p. …

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