In recent years there has been a surge of interest in the subject of inequality, fuelled by new facts and new thinking. The literature on inequality has expanded rapidly as official data on income, wealth, and other personal information have become richer and more easily accessible. Ideas about the meaning of inequality have expanded to encompass new concepts and different dimensions of economic inequality. The purpose of this chapter is to give a concise overview of the issues that are involved in translating ideas about inequality into practice using various types of data.
In this chapter, we revisit the origins and genesis of the french school of proximity and its evolution trough time, in order to better understand how and why the small group of researchers who were the driving force of this new way of thinking were quickly able to get a real legitimacy and effective recognition. First of all, it was clear that the role of space in economic dynamics was too often the subject of confusion and abusive assertions. Asking this question in terms of coordination made it possible to consider non-spatial factors in the analysis. The notion of proximity as a polysemic concept therefore opened the way to understanding how space matters or not, together with these other factors thus a renewed approach of questions related to space and territories. But, even starting from issues of economic nature, such an approach could not remain limited to its economic dimension, the questions of coordination involving social individuals, located in geographical space but also embedded in bundles of relationships and in institutions. Thus, it had to broaden very quickly to other disciplines in social sciences which largely contributed to consolidate the bases of what became a multidisciplinary approach and to develop theoretical as well as empirical tools.