The scale debate in human geography: What does micro have to offer?

Scale is a schaffold, focus and framework of a theory. Consequently, the choice in favor of a distinct scale has far reaching and necessarily ambivalent consequences: it fades out some parts of reality in order to more clearly focus the main point of interest, it thus supports and oppresses ideas, accentuates as well as blinds out interdependencies, includes or excludes topics. As scales are socially constructed, historically contingent and, thus, of course, politically contested they remain one of the most discussed issues in human and economic geography. Traditionally our discipline operates at the macro- and meso-scale of theorizing whereas micro-scale theories so far have been less influential. These scalar preferences imply substantial theoretical biases, which are increasingly registered by more recent contributions. Social practices on the micro-level so far have widely been perceived as being less significant in determining economic processes around the globe and they are mistakenly subsumed as mere expressions of larger scale activities, thereby neglecting the possibility that both might operate in a distinct, possibly even a contradictory logic.

Today manifold alternative attempts to theorize at the micro-level have emerged and gained an enhanced attention. In its third track, the SECONS Discussion Forum invites short interventions  which fathom out the potential contributions of micro-level theories and address some meta-theoretical questions of a scalar thinking, such as the boundaries of distinct scales, the merits of a specific scalar level, the interrelation between social and spatial scales, and the fundamental restrictions connected to thinking in terms of scales.

Gernot Grabher and Oliver Ibert