The blue economy: Identifying geographic concepts and sensitivities

Last modified: 
December 13, 2019 - 12:46pm
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2019
Date published: 07/2019
Authors: Michaela Garland, Stephen Axon, Marcello Graziano, John Morrissey, Patrick Heidkamp
Journal title: Geography Compass
ISSN: 1749-8198

There is currently no generally accepted definition for the “blue economy,” despite the term becoming common parlance over the past decade. The concept and practice have spawned a rich, and diverse, body of scholarly activity. Yet despite this emerging body of literature, there is ambiguity around what the blue economy is, what it encapsulates, and its practices. Thus far, the existing literature has failed to theorise key geographical concepts such as space, place, scale, and power relations, all of which have the potential to lead to uneven development processes and regional differentiation. Previous research has sought to clarify the ontological separation of land and sea or has conceptualised the blue economy as a complex governmental project that opens up new governable spaces and rationalises particular ways of managing marine and coastal regions. More recently, geographers have called for a critical—and practical—engagement with the blue economy. This paper critically examines the existing literature of the geographies of the blue economy through a structured meta‐analysis of published work, specifically its conceptualisations and applications to debates in the field. Results offer the potential to ground a bottom‐up definition of the blue economy. In so doing, this paper provides a clearly identifiable rubric of the key geographical concepts that are often overlooked by researchers, policymakers, and practitioners when promoting economic development and technological innovation in coastal and marine environments.

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