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  • Author or Editor: Sarah Marie Hall x
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Assumptions made about social class, accent and identity, and the links between them, have long been understood as a form of geographical referencing, a way of placing ourselves and of being placed by others, both socially and spatially (Donnelly et al, 2019; Savage, 2015; Skeggs, 2004). In this chapter I reflect on this form of identity making and social positioning in the context of research engagement with families, academic communities and policy makers alike, in an attempt to speak back to these various stakeholders. As I discuss, by locating people socially and spatially according to accent and dialect, leaps in understanding can be made about whether and how as a researcher your lived experiences are similar to those whom you research, and the extent to which you may be able to speak for others – if this is ever even preferable (also see Chapter Four in this volume). To do this I draw upon relevant literatures alongside insights from two ethnographic research projects in the north-west of England. Both studies explored everyday family relationships and practices (the first in 2007–9, the second in 2013–15), involving families and communities from varied socio-economic backgrounds. They also applied similar research designs, built predominantly on participant observation and supported by taped discussions, participatory tasks and photographs (for further details on methodology, see Hall, 2017). And, significantly, both projects were led by and carried out, with findings disseminated by the author, Sarah: a young(ish) white woman from a working-class family, born and raised in Barnsley, a small Yorkshire town in the north of England.

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Inspiring, Critical and Plural Perspectives

The subdiscipline of economic geography has a long and varied history, and recent work has pushed the field to diversify even further. This collection takes this agenda forward by showcasing inspiring, critical and plural perspectives for contemporary economic geographies.

Highlighting the contributions of global scholars, the thirty chapters showcase fresh ways of approaching economic geography in research, teaching and praxis. With sections on thought leaders, contemporary critical debates and future research agendas, this collection calls for greater openness and inclusivity.

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We have approached this edited collection with an ambitious agenda; to create further space to develop and extend pluralized contemporary economic geographies. This is a task that can only be achieved collectively, and so it is fitting to start our ending by thanking all the contributors to the collection. The work of pluralizing and diversifying is not an equal or shared task, and we are mindful that the labour of doing ‘diversity work’ often falls to those individuals who are most deeply affected by the problems of privilege and exclusivity. Thus, a collection such as this is more than the sum of its parts, and more than can be seen written on the pages. It represents a collective vision for how to do things differently. In this postscript we take the opportunity to outline what we hope may come from this collection as part of a broader project which brings in you, the readers. This is less of a ‘last word’ and more of a call to action.

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What could economic geographies be? What should economic geographies be? Who might be included in this project, what might they contribute, and how can we ensure that this work is valued? These are not new questions, and yet they remain as pertinent as ever. This collection adopts a fresh perspective to these debates, and to economic geographies more broadly, with a focus on plurality. We show how contemporary economic geographies are already plural, as they are critical and inspiring. However, this remains to be widely recognized and celebrated. Such pluralism is, we argue, essential. It includes building upon economic geographies that acknowledge the deeply ingrained racial, gendered and classed power differentials inherent within the economy across space, scale and time; and that propose ways to address these problems. It involves expanding upon the areas that are considered the ‘heartlands’ of economic geography (such as a focus on the regional and national scale, agglomeration and clustering, financial processes and industrial sectors), and advancing the theoretical devices deployed to understand these worlds. Pluralism likewise extends to empirical and methodological imagination, in terms of how, where and with whom economic geographies engage, include and empower. This involves wider engagements across international fields of study, going beyond Anglocentric sites, writings and perspectives, and broadening methodological expertise to encourage innovation and creativity. Working towards more plural economic geographies also means tackling and addressing long-standing concerns about the overbearing heteronormativity of who ‘does’ and who is ‘recognized’ within the subdiscipline.

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The subdiscipline of economic geography has a long and varied history, and recent work has pushed the field to diversify even further. This collection takes this agenda forward by showcasing inspiring, critical and plural perspectives for contemporary economic geographies. Highlighting the contributions of global scholars, the 30 chapters highlight fresh ways of approaching economic geography in research, teaching and praxis. With sections on thought leaders, contemporary critical debates and future research agendas, this collection calls for greater openness and inclusivity.

Restricted access

The subdiscipline of economic geography has a long and varied history, and recent work has pushed the field to diversify even further. This collection takes this agenda forward by showcasing inspiring, critical and plural perspectives for contemporary economic geographies. Highlighting the contributions of global scholars, the 30 chapters highlight fresh ways of approaching economic geography in research, teaching and praxis. With sections on thought leaders, contemporary critical debates and future research agendas, this collection calls for greater openness and inclusivity.

Restricted access

The subdiscipline of economic geography has a long and varied history, and recent work has pushed the field to diversify even further. This collection takes this agenda forward by showcasing inspiring, critical and plural perspectives for contemporary economic geographies. Highlighting the contributions of global scholars, the 30 chapters highlight fresh ways of approaching economic geography in research, teaching and praxis. With sections on thought leaders, contemporary critical debates and future research agendas, this collection calls for greater openness and inclusivity.

Restricted access

Through personal anecdotes, this collection has zoomed in on certain aspects of how research is conducted and perceived, many of which often remain hidden in academia and beyond. The main message of the book is that these encounters and engagements matter, not only to researchers but also to the way the research is perceived in and percolates through into the ‘real world’. Rich in illustration of cases across different countries and contexts, the chapters in this volume offer a persuasive account of why it pays those involved in research or users of research to develop a more critical eye towards the research process and its impact. The aim of the book has been to expose the plethora of social interactions and characteristics that are manifested in encounters and the role of researchers, policy makers, industry representatives and civil society in negotiating difference in engagement and impact. A key message of the book is that difference is encountered in many ways, some less subtle than others, during every aspect of research and engagement. However, institutions are ill equipped to recognise and offer support and training in critically engaging with intersectionality and its implications in encounters and encounter spaces. This needs to change. This book serves as a testimony that the things that can shape research are often unexpected to the researchers themselves and that, while they may be invisible to others, they can be unsurmountable to some, shaping and moulding future research and reaching out beyond neatly labelled parts of research work, such as fieldwork and engagement.

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This book develops critical and original perspectives on research engagement and impact. It uses first-hand accounts from social scientists to unpack and highlight the intersectionality of their work and experiences in engaging with policy, industry, civil society and other academics. With a personal and reflexive take on experience and the politics of research engagement, including notions of social difference, power and inequality, we respond to the growing agenda and the desire of academic research for real-world influence. Our aims for this collection are, then, to provide critical reflexivity to understandings and applications of research engagement and impact strategies, within academia and with other stakeholders, namely policy makers, industry and civil society. In this introductory chapter we outline the contemporary landscapes of impact and engagement; identify important spaces of research engagement and encounter; outline key ideas about intersectionality, identity and positionality; and provide a taster of the themed sections and chapters that follow. Academic engagement with non-academic groups and actors – such as policy makers, industry, charities and activist groups, communities and the public – is arguably more important now than ever before. From public engagement activities such as talks, exhibitions and festivals, to the co-production of knowledge for and with interest groups, the imperative for real-world influence has moved from being an ideal in academic research to something of a normative expectation (also see Banks et al, 2019; Hardill and Mills, 2013). Indeed, such engagement, or rather ‘impact’ on industry, policy making and public opinion, is increasingly being formalised, as another marker of esteem and credibility upon which academic institutions, their staff and increasingly students are promoted, measured and ranked.

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