The uneven geographies of inter-urban relationships in Europe: evidences from cities' participation to EC Framework Programmes
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In recent decades global economic, social, and cultural transformations have contributed to bringing about significant changes in the way cities are conceptualized and represented. In such a framework, this paper investigates two issues characterizing current theorization on urban processes: geographical scales and networks. In particular, we address the implications - both conceptual and practical - of adopting a scalar network-based approach to the analysis of the European urban system. Paragraph 1 presents a brief review of recent theories on inter-urban interactions in Europe, focusing on the spatial structure of supra-local cooperative relationships. In paragraph 2, the topic of geographical scale is introduced as a crucial issue in the analysis of urban functions, from both the analytical and project-oriented standpoints. More specifically, a number of major interpretations dealing with the urban-scale issue are discussed. Paragraph 3 presents some insights into the concept of transcalarity, defined as reliance on different geographical scales at the same time. Starting from this definition, a transcalar approach to urban networks is then formalised and applied (in paragraph 4) to the analysis of the network of relationships developed by actors from the metropolitan area of Turin. More precisely, the number of copartnerships in European Community research and technological development (RTD) projects are taken as a measure of inter-urban ties at both the European and regional scales. In paragraph 5, some tentative conclusions of this exercise are drawn, outlining the strengths and weaknesses of network analysis and graph representations as compared to current applications in urban studies.