Conceptualising ‘macro-regions’: Viewpoints and tools beyond NUTS classification
Definitions are imposed but properties not. The basic question addressed by this paper is how to ‘detect’ objective socio-economic spatial structures instead of ‘defining’ them arbitrarily. The NUTS classification model is rather arbitrary. Not only have the administrative units been structured through ‘accidental’ historical conditions but the reliability of the measurement of the population in an area is disputable as long as the mobility is strengthened and the ‘usual residence’ becomes more and more vague. Concerning the auxiliary criteria, they are also heterogeneous and are rather perceptions imposed by decision makers than physical entities. The quantitative network analysis (QNA) approach is suggested as a tool to detect macro-structures regarded as socio-economic and natural infrastructure of a ‘macro-region’. This is based on algebraic analysis of a number of variables such as flows of people migration, financial means, information, commodities, bio-diversity elements and parameters of the new relationship between urban and rural areas. In this paper, by using algorithms of QNA, such as Density of flows or Betweenness centrality of places, ‘denser’ networks of flows among places or more ‘central’ places can be differentiated from others, and thus can be used for a more substantial demarcation of ‘macro-regions’.