Smoke and mirrors: An ethnography of the state

“Fortunately, to the benefit of students young and old, the reflexive ruminations contained between these covers are fresh, penetrating, honest, personal and, at times, poignant. They are sure to stimulate a long-overdue reawakening of interest in methodological choice and its consequences in economic geography. In doing so, the contributors to this volume have performed an incredibly valuable service on behalf of economic geographers everywhere”

-Professor Meric S. Gertler, University of Toronto, Canada



How do geographers do economic geography? This is the first sustained discussion of methodological issues in economic geography in the last twenty years. It comprises an extended discussion of qualitative and ethnographic methods; an assessment of quantitative and numerical methods; an examination of post-structuralist and feminist methodologies; an overview of case-study approaches; and an inquiry into the relation between economic geography and other disciplines.


In the last fifteen years economic geography has experienced a number of fundamental theoretical and methodological shifts. Politics and Practice in Economic Geography explains and interrogates these fundamental issues of research practice in the discipline.

Concerned with examining the methodological challenges associated with that “cultural turn,” the text explains and discusses:

  • qualitative and ethnographic methodologies
  • the role and significance of quantitative and numerical methods
  • the methodological implications of both post-structural and feminist theories
  • the use of case-study approaches
  • the methodological relation between the economic geography other disciplines like neoclassical economics, economic sociology, and economic anthropology


With short, accessible, and engaging chapters, this is a critical assessment of qualitative and quantitative methods in economic geography.


Leading contributors examine substantive methodological issues in economic geography and make a distinctive contribution to economic-geographical debate and practice. This will be an essential primer for all students of economic geography, as well as human geography more generally.

<< Back