Urban hierarchies and forms of production in Central Saskatchewan
Urban hierarchies and methods of economic exchange have been extensively researched for many years by social scientists. On one hand, Central Place and trade center models have attempted to describe how urban settlements of different size interact and fit into a larger system or hierarchy. At the same time, social scientists were also attempting to understand how economic, social, and geographic situations affect exchange within different regions. Researchers have attempted to analyze these different types of economic situations. Surprisingly, very little research has attempted to integrate urban hierarchy research with informal production research. This research has attempted to re-conceptualize urban hierarchies by encompassing a variety of forms of economic exchange, including informal exchange, into currently used urban hierarchy models. Specifically, this study will examine the multiple forms of exchange that exist across a set of six communities in Central Saskatchewan representative of the provincial urban hierarchy. This inclusive perspective on urban economic structure, including formal exchange as defined in traditional models as well as bartering, self-production and home work, will force us to reevaluate the concept of work, exchange, production and the real nature of the economy across urban hierarchies. Finding out the accuracy or relevancy of models will help determine whether traditional urban hierarchy structural models designed to categorize urban places across a region properly reflect the total economy of these urban places. The resulting analysis and research in this thesis have demonstrated that the total economy of Saskatchewan's urban hierarchy includes all methods of exchange, as households in every community, regardless of size and functionality, accessed goods and services both informally and formally. While empirical results did not clearly distinguish a strong relationship between community size, functionality and the significance of informal economic activity, there was some evidence to suggest that the those in the smallest, lower-tiered communities were more likely to incorporate informal economic activity in their production and consumption choices than those in the higher-tiered communities. Likewise, empirical data did complement existing central place research in Saskatchewan by providing evidence that residents in lower-order communities were more likely to travel to other communities to purchase formally derived goods and services than those in higher-order communities. A reanalysis of the data and key socio-demographic characteristics of the respondents suggested unique links between respondent age, income and household size and the choices of modes of goods and services acquisition that complemented theoretical research on the informal economy. Likewise, community profiles provided a longitudinal picture of each community's functionality and suggested a clearer picture of the differences between each study community within the hierarchy and the choices of modes of production.