Networks, regional development and democratic control
The networking literature has burgeoned in recent years within a complex cross-disciplinary field spanning sociology, economics, geography and planning. In particular, networks have been analyzed as organizational expressions of globalization, linked to claims about the rise of the network society. Concepts of networks and networking have been accepted as positive, and sometimes also as progressive or radical within both social science and policy discourses. With respect to urban and regional policy, the European Union has been promoting networks as a new mode of governance, at a variety of spatial scales However, little attention has been paid to the theoretical implications of using the concept of network as a social metaphor or to the operation of actually existing networks, as a result of conceptualizing networks in ways that deny their constitutive inequalities and asymmetries. This darker side has been pushed into the shadows by the rhetorical emphasis on the benefits claimed for networked organizational forms.