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Networking the world: Special session – Athens 2011

Compte-rendu de colloque
Myriam Baron et Laurent Beauguitte
p. 333-335

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géographie, réseau, colloque
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1The Special Session “Networking the World: concepts, methods, data” was one of the three special sessions1 organized in the 17th European Colloquium on Theoretical and Quantitative Geography held in Athens from September 2nd to September 5th2.

Why a special session titled ‘Networking the World’?

2In this special session, we intend to examine the recent ‘state of the art’ on worldwide networks (economic, migrants, financial, scientific, political, etc.). Obviously, to catch human and environmental processes of globalization, working on world scale became more and more frequent during the last three decades, in geography as in other fields. Part of these studies focused mainly on relations between actors. Analyzing these relations implies to define distance(s) in what could be called, after Wallerstein, the ‘World-System’. On one hand, these distances can be based on the intensity of links regardless to physical distance. On the other hand, spatial proximities still matter when the structure of world flows is analyzed. So working on world scale networks does not imply support to fuzzy ‘End of Distance’ nor ‘End of Geography’ paradigm.

3Three main topics were selected to organize ‘brain storming’ of this special session. The first one concerns data available on world scale and their degree of relevance. The second topic focuses on concepts and methods commonly used to study these networks (scale-free and small-world networks, measures of centrality, etc.). And, last but not least, the third one considers the varied fields of application, main geographical results, and ways they reveal (or not) same world patterns.

‘Networking the World’ special session: A review

4Nearly 40 searchers were interested in such a subject. Indeed we received and examined nearly 20 abstracts. Finally, 10 were presented in this session and met at least one of the topics proposed for discussion.

5Major part of papers presented coped with empirical studies. The variety of case studies needs to be highlighted: from transport networks (P. Morgado and N. Costa, ‘Graph-based model to transport networks analysis through GIS’) to various scientific cooperations (I. Vardakosta and S. Kapidakis, ‘Geospatial Collection Development Policies in Academic Libraries: a worldwide research’; M. Baron, D. Eckert and M. Maisonobe, ‘Worlds of Scientific Cooperations. Choosing appropriate data for specific networks’), from urban and firms’ networks (B. Gautier, ‘A typology of multinational firms networks by transaction costs theory for cities integration’; C. Bohan, ‘Firms’ competition of the motor industry in the cities’ system: a network approach’; C. Rozenblat, ‘A multi-level and multi-dimensional approach: agents and cities networks in order to study World cities’ system through multinational firms’ networks’) to regionalization process (F. Bahoken, ‘Comparison of functional regionalization of the World: a methodological case study based on Intramax procedure’, G. Borruso, ‘A nodal regional analysis of air transport in Europe. Country and airport flows for measuring European integration’).

6One single paper tried to propose a (controversial) historical and epistemological perspective regarding networks methods used in geography and especially the importation of the scale-free and small-world networks models (L. Beauguitte and C. Ducruet, ‘Scale-free and small-world networks in geographical research: A critical examination’3).

7The geographical scale taken into account varied from a specific country (Portugal for P. Morgado and N. Costa) to a world scale (cities for C. Rozenblat or M. Baron et al.; states for F. Bahoken, B. Gautier or I. Vardakosta and S. Kapidakis) passing through intermediate scale (Europe for G. Borruso, Eurasia for O. de Lillo). Scale was also chosen according to a specific topic as in the presentation of C. Bohan (main automobile multinationals).

8Papers focusing on transport networks used a classical approach to network analysis, based on Kansky’s indices, or Nystuen and Dacey’s method to define dominant flows. Methods coming from social network analysis (e.g. betweenness centrality) or physics (e.g. clustering coefficient) were also used, and results compared with the previous ones. Presentations dealing with relational data, material or not (co-publications, financial links), used methods from social network analysis (e.g. centrality scores) and, to a lesser extent, methods from computer sciences and physics.

9Whatever the dataset, papers aimed at measuring nodes properties to highlight the most central places/actors. F. Bahoken’s paper could be considered as an exception: using an atypical method (intramax clustering procedure), it produced a world regionalization based on several flows matrices.

10Contributions of this special session could be considered as a picture, between others, of the searchers’ interest for these subjects. This special session was a fruitful moment of exchanges and illustrated the vitality of network researches on geography. Its aim was to provide valuable inputs for further discussions.

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1 One dedicated to ‘Spatial simulation in geography: agent-based modelling, geocomputational experiments and evaluation protocols’, and the other to ‘Quantitative methods in health geography’.



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Myriam Baron et Laurent Beauguitte, « Networking the world: Special session – Athens 2011 »Netcom, 25-3/4 | 2011, 333-335.

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Myriam Baron et Laurent Beauguitte, « Networking the world: Special session – Athens 2011 »Netcom [En ligne], 25-3/4 | 2011, mis en ligne le 17 avril 2013, consulté le 23 octobre 2021. URL : ; DOI :

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Myriam Baron

Groupe fmr (flux, matrices, réseaux)

Laurent Beauguitte

Groupe fmr (flux, matrices, réseaux)

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Netcom – Réseaux, communication et territoires est mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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