(Re)Placing Path Dependence: A Response to the Debate


My aim in this contribution is to respond to the three preceding critiques of my Roepke Lecture on ‘Rethinking Regional Path Dependence: Beyond Lock‐in to Evolution’. Each critique raises some pertinent and challenging issues: specifically that Marxist regional political economy is a more powerful perspective with which to ‘take history seriously’; that I should have given due recognition to the idea of ‘punctuated evolution’; and that my attempt to revise and extend the concept of path dependence has ontological problems. I welcome these commentaries, as they contribute to the very debate that my Roepke Lecture was intended to initiate. But I argue that these critiques are themselves contestable, and that none of them undermines the main thrust of that lecture. My aim in the latter was to suggest that we need to widen and revise the concept of path dependence if it is to function as a an evolutionary concept, to set it free from the overly restrictive and conservative interpretation (of ‘lock‐in’) that it has all too often been given in economic‐geographic applications. I defend that aim here.