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In Search of Causality: A Regional Approach to Urban Growth in Eighteenth-century England

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The simple equation of industrialisation and urbanisation contains much truth: recent national surveys confirm that rapid coal-based industrial growth spawned massive urban development in Britain. And yet at the local level a wide diversity of growth experiences reflect a complex and overlapping nexus of growth stimuli which defy attempts at generalisation. In taking a regional perspective, this paper seeks to occupy a productive middle ground in this ongoing debate. Placing urban growth in north-west England into its real economic and geographical context, it recognises the complexities of urban growth but transcends the narrowness of the particular. In so doing, it challenges some of the certainties of industrial urbanisation, emphasising instead the importance of rural industry, urban commercial functions and inter-place linkages. Most fundamentally, it argues for a more nuanced understanding of the geography of causality.

Keywords: Britain; industrialisation; regional analysis; urbanisation

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.0435-3684.2000.00080.x

Affiliations: Coventry University, Priory Street, Coventry, CV1 5FB, UK

Publication date: October 1, 2000

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