Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Geology and Geography

Committee Chair

Robert Hanham


Geographic theories regarding uneven development, including Neil Smith's convergence of Marxist theory and spatial development and David Harvey's development of scalar fix and later conceptual development of the process of capital accumulation, historically have focused primarily on how and why uneven development occurs. Research to date has provided only a cursory examination of what role, if any, the state plays in impacting uneven development, has not endeavored to characterize the state as an active, purposeful spatial player in the process of uneven development, and has not conceptualized how the state impacts uneven development through spatial practices, if the state does in fact do so. This dissertation attempts to fill that gap in the literature by examining the state's role in uneven development and theorizing that the state plays an active spatial role in impacting uneven development to benefit capital interests. The dissertation conceptually develops and illustrates a new theory of flexible rescaling which builds on the prior work of Smith and Harvey and attempts to elucidate the under conceptualized role of the state. Through flexible rescaling the state can be seen actively engaged in the redistribution of internal power within the confines of an already established but inherently flexible fixed network of power, acting as a committee serving the interests of capital. This dissertation uses dialectics as its methodology, both to develop the conceptual framework and to illustrate the state's use of it in a more concrete context where the state rescales power upward or downward or rescales power laterally to facilitate spatial change while fostering consent and/or overcoming any obstacle to spatial change. The dissertation uses examples from Appalachia of land practices resulting in uneven development brought about by state spatial practices that benefit capital to illustrate the theoretical development of flexible rescaling.