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Understanding the Changing Planet: Strategic Directions for the Geographical Sciences
FIGURE 8.1 This cartogram resizes national territories by the earnings of the poorest 10th living in each territory, focusing attention on comparative issues of importance for research on space, scale, and inequality. By visualizing the relative scope of inequality across major regions, questions are raised about the causes of similarly deep inequality in both Latin America and Africa vis-à-vis the countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Striking spatial patterns such as these point to the potential importance of common social and economic histories that situate each of these regions in particular ways within global divisions of labor, commerce, politics, and cultural flows. SOURCE: Worldmapper. Copyright 2006 SASI Group (University of Sheffield) and Mark Newman (University of Michigan).
Systematic comparisons of subnational inequality and its causes across a range of countries, and in the context of global processes, could move the research agenda forward. Prior research has compared patterns and processes of within-country inequality for Britain, the United States, South Africa, and the former Soviet Union to determine how different economic structures, institutional arrangements and processes of discrimination (apartheid, class, gender and race) are associated with distinct patterns of spatial and social inequality (Smith, 1987). Smith’s comparative research is now 20 years old, however, and we lack an adequate understanding of how recent developments are changing economic, social and political landscapes as a result of global financial instability, new global trade regimes, and environmental instability in the wake of the transition from socialist to capitalist, globalized economies in some parts of the world (cf. Mykhenko and Swain, 2010, who provide a contemporary example of research on the links between territorial inequality, post-socialist transition, and the importation of foreign capital).