Published online: 21 August 2007
Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2007
Abstract Action takes place at a given time and place. As a science of human action,
economics is, therefore, just as much about the spaces where real action occurs as it is about
real time. The implications of real time for social order is better recognized than the
significance of “action space.” The living city is the principal locus of action space and
enabler of social change as well as the source of fundamental concepts in economic theory.
Just as a loss of density and diversity in cities tends to retard dynamic discovery and
development, the turn in economic theory in the mid-20th century toward static equilibrium
reflected a move from an urban-based to a plantation-based conception of the economy—
from the city to the farm. Some recent developments in network theory, game theory, and
geography, however, can be interpreted as a re-urbanization of economics.
Keywords Action space
JEL codes B25
1 The economics of time and place
Any action, understood as purposeful behavior, is done by someone for something, at a
given time and at a particular place. This is, as we know, a primordial fact of human action.
So, when it comes to something as central to economics as knowledge, we can
understand why Hayek (1945) defines it in reference to “the particular circumstances of
time and place.” Mises, too, although in a different context, observes that “When [man] is
born, he does not enter the world in general as such, but a definite environment” (1963:46).
Now, O’Driscoll and Rizzo (1985) established that real time, time relevant to human
action, is not neutral, but is, on the contrary, causally potent and creative. Able scholars
have justifiably devoted their efforts over the past 20 years or so to understanding the nature
and significance of real time in this sense in the social world.
Rev Austrian Econ (2007) 20:213–220
S. Ikeda (*)
Economics, Purchase College, SUNY, Purchase, NY, USA