Learning from the Past. How Local Economic Conventions Influence Responses to Global Crises

Friday, 20 July 2018: 15:45
Oral Presentation
Nina BAUR, Technische Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Linda HERING, Technische Universitat Berlin, Germany
Reactions to global crises vary locally, and the specific reaction to a particular crisis does not only depend on structural aspects (such as city’s placement in the world system) but also on local economic practices. Based on concepts from ‘Economics of Convention’, we argue that people handle complexity and contingency in everyday life by drawing on knowledge of approved routines and practices of how things are typically done. This knowledge is highly context-specific. Adopting the idea of the ‘Intrinsic Logic of Cities’ which tells us that cities create and maintain their own distinct constellations of knowledge and modes of expression that are reflected in their everyday practices, we conceptualize the space of local economy as a figuration that develops procedurally and depends on the hidden structures that over time get inscripted in the urban space. Comparable to an imprint, one can track the history of the conditions that pre-structure this figuration over time. Using material from a comparative study carried out in four cities – two in Germany (Dortmund and Frankfurt), two in Great Britain (Birmingham and Glasgow) –, we show that the specific reactions to a crisis and the ability of coping with it can only be grasped by understanding a city’s past.