Book Review (Stutz and Warf 2011)

Cover of World Economy, Geography, Business and Development

World Economy, Geography, Business and Development

By Frederick P. Stutz and Barney Warf.

(2011) Sixth Edition, Prentice Hall, Pearson, New Jersey, USA ISBN 0321722507.

Reviewed by Allison Wylde, London Metropolitan University (04 May 2011)

Economic Geography students will find the sixth edition of the popular World Economy, Geography, Business, Development offers a broad introduction to the subject through a combination of traditional economic analysis, theoretical background and political economy supplemented with online resources including videos from TVE’s Life and Earth Report series, quizzes, lecture material and RSS feeds of current news items (p.x). The authors say that the “key goal of the book [is] to help students think globally” (p.ix-x).
Frederick Stutz and Barney Warf in the short preface the say the book offers a “comprehensive overview of economic geography and that its understanding is crucial for students and their educators as well as voters, informed consumers and alert businesspeople” (paraphrased p. ix).

World Economy, Geography, Business, Development is arranged as fourteen chapters and begins with an introductory chapter which reviews the analytical themes and paradigms including globalisation and capitalism, in the context of world development issues. The authors then outline the context, characteristics and history of capitalism from the industrial revolution as well as exploring the relationship between colonialism and global capitalism (Chapter 2). Next is a discussion of the distribution and the economic causes and consequences of changes in populations; leading to a considered examination and critique of Malthusian theory which ends with a review of demographic transition in particular the baby-boom and economic migrations (Chapter 3). The next three chapters describe the world’s resources including food and the associated problems of shortages, supply and depletion including the energy crisis and the role of alternative energy and environmental degradation (Chapter 4) The theory is presented in Chapter 5, from Webber to Kondratieff, firms’ growth, production, scale and location, the product cycle and the economic landscape as shaped by the state. Changes in agricultural form and practice through from prehistory to modern commercial practice across the world and US policies are reviewed along with sustainable and ecologically friendly agricultural practice, the Von Thunen model is covered in the context of its role to analyse land-use pattern (Chapter 6). The next three chapters examine industry; Chapter 7, the major world manufacturing regions and the current position of deindustrialisation in the developed world and industrialisation in the developing world, sector dynamics are approached using specific industry analysis, including the shift towards flexible labour and production along with the product life cycle. The next chapter concentrates on the diversity, growth and globalisation of services (case studies of financial and producer sectors, consumer services and tourism are presented); a summary of the difficulties associated with their investigation is included (Chapter 8). This chapter is followed by a study of transportation and communications starting with the historical perspective of the modern systems, cost-space and time-space convergence (compression) along with a consideration of their relationship to economic development; policy is highlighted as having a key role. Innovations in online networks and the social and economic impacts of the internet are presented in Chapter 9. The next two chapters focus modern urban growth and consumption. The relationship with the development of capitalism and between cities and their economic base and exports is considered alongside relationships between housing supply and demand, residential sprawl, suburbanisation and urban sprawl, inner city poverty- the ghetto, gentrification, globalisation, global cities and sustainability are explored (Chapter 10). Chapter 11 explores the history of consumption and consumerism and how theories from a sociological, neoclassical and Marxist view can be used to explore their multiple spatial scales and geographies; environmental impacts are also analysed. Chapter 12 starts by examining the classical theoretical views and their limitations on international trade, from trade flows to comparative and competitive advantage, the role of trade barriers or tariffs, the dynamics of foreign direct investment, financing and its role, exchange rates and the role of trade organisations including the World Trade Organisation. Chapter 13 discusses the emergence of international commerce, the opening-up new exports’ markets; examples of global trade flows presented include steel and Non-oil commodities. Finally Chapter 14, considers development, its definitions and the economic problems that prevent it. A case study on remittances (migrant workers sending money home) explores the importance of this form on finance to help development at grass-roots level. In each chapter the authors tackle the topics subject by presenting the key theories along with a case study to examine a specific theme in more depth, including, for example, the great depression and the impending baby-bust, medical tourism and internet censorship in China.

There are valuable additional password-protected resources available through the publisher’s website, materials include, case-study videos, links to news articles, web sources; each section is supplemented with self-test questions which test both the subject matter and elements of critical thinking. For example, a video entitled, “Cash flow fewer” documents the illegal migration from El Salvador to the USA resulting from civil war and a hurricane. The video also highlights the USA’s policy of establishing temporary protected status enabling the migrants’ an amnesty – the outcome of which has been net development gains (through remittances) in the migrants’ this process is now supported by the El Salvador Government and the United Nations to establish community remittance programmes for distanciated-ground up-development (Cash flow fewer). These resources demonstrate clear evidence that pedagogy has been thought through, a set of objectives are set out for each section, students are presented with current information, tested on their understanding and provided with timely feedback (see, for example, Fry et al. 1999 and Biggs 1999). Further web resources include an “in the news section” which features regular updates and current press articles from a range of publications including the New York Times and New Scientist.

Attempting to cover so many topics means there are some obvious gaps in depth. For example, the case study in Chapter 3, on the great depression and the baby bust (ahead) says that the baby boom generation’s peak spending age is correlated with GDP (the commodity cycle, which occurs every forty years); colour plate maps and figures are used to provide the detail. The authors then say that this cycle won’t happen again until 2020-25, coinciding with when children of the baby boomers reach their peak spending age. However, the data presented is solely US-based and may not reflect the wider global picture. Another important omission is that of security; although the authors discuss post 9/11 security agreements related to the North American Free-Trade Agreement (page 342) when they speak about food supply they fail to expand on the fuller implications of food security (see, for example, Ingram, Ericksen and Liverman Eds. 2012); critical features of this modern period of global uncertainties. Finally, some language should be more nuanced, for example, “Looming over the Toronto skyline” (p.292 emphasis original), “The World Bank doles out loans” (p.337) and more worryingly for a student-facing book “…to keep the wealthy sheiks in power” (p. 344).

Overall, apart from the omissions language issues, this book provides an excellent resource for readers seeking a broad introduction to the ever-expanding territory of Economic Geography; the website provides a central resource of source-material that is regularly updated.

References

Biggs J. (1999) Teaching for Quality learning at University, Open University Press, Milton Keynes UK.

Beaty, E. (1999) Supporting Experiential Learning, in Fr y, H., Ketteridge, S. & Marshall, S. (Eds), A Handbook for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Kogan Page: London, UK pp 134-146.

Ingram J., Erickson P., Liverman D (2010) Eds. Food security and global environmental change, Earthscan, London UK.

Stutz F.P., Warf B. (2011) World Economy, Geography, Business, Development, Sixth Edition, Prentice Hall, Pearson, New Jersey, USA.

 

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