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Keywords:

  • state spatiality;
  • state rescaling;
  • devolution;
  • South Korea;
  • uneven development;
  • discourse analysis;
  • discursive strategy

Abstract:  Recent developments in spatial political economy have shown that the shift of power from the national state to subnational states in many Western European countries does not represent a dismantling of the state, but a reconfiguration of statehood that the national state proactively takes part in. The existing literature, however, neglects the path-dependent and contested nature of state spatiality and depicts devolution as the only possible option. In contrast, this paper shows that changes in state spatiality are contingent upon historical and spatial context, where the state may choose to pursue different options. Based on an empirical study of South Korea, this paper shows that the national state may choose to resist the pressure for devolution. The methodological contribution of this paper is on the emphasis of discursive strategy in the study of state spatiality.