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Abstract : Urbanization rates across the world economy are now higher and more rapid than ever before in human history. What categories and models of urbanization are most appropriate for understanding these transformations, their origins, and their consequences, and for coming to terms with their wide-ranging implications? In this brief essay, we cannot attempt to survey the intricacies of diverse research traditions.
Instead, we outline some of the methodological foundations and major lines of investigation within research on globalizing cities, while also alluding to several emergent debates and agendas that are currently animating this field, with specific reference to the conceptualization and investigation of global interurban networks.
Keywords : globalized urbanization, global capitalism, global cities, interurban networks, global city research. The combined demographic, economic, socio-technological, material-metabolic and sociocultural processes of urbanization have resulted in the formation of a globalized network of spatially concentrated human settlements and infrastructural configurations in which major dimensions of modern capitalism are at once concentrated, reproduced and contested.
This pattern of increasingly globalized urbanization contradicts earlier predictions, in the waning decades of the 20 th century, that the era of urbanization was nearing its end due to new information technologies such as the internet , declining transportation costs and new, increasingly dispersed patterns of human settlement.
Despite these trends, all major indicators suggest that urbanization rates across the world economy are now higher and more rapid than ever before in human history. This is not to suggest that the entire world has become a single, densely concentrated city; on the contrary, uneven spatial development, sociospatial polarization and territorial inequality remain pervasive, endemic features of modern capitalism. The urban revolution poses major challenges for the field of urban studies.
Today, however, it is not the internal differentiation of urban worlds within neatly contained ecologies of settlement, or the extension of such urbanized settlements into rural hinterlands, that constitutes the central focal point for urban studies. Instead, in conjunction with the uneven yet worldwide generalization of urbanization, we are confronted with new forms of global connectivity — along with new patterns of disconnection, peripheralization, exclusion and vulnerability — among and within urbanizing regions across the globe.
How to decipher these transformations, their origins, and their consequences? What categories and models of urbanization are most appropriate for understanding them, and for coming to terms with their wide-ranging implications?
Since the early s, critical urban researchers have devoted intense energies to precisely these questions — on the one hand, by analyzing emergent forms of globalized urbanization and their impacts upon social, political and economic dynamics within and beyond major cities; on the other hand, by introducing a host of new methods and conceptualizations intended to grasp the changing realities of planetary urbanization under late 20 th- and early 21 st -century capitalism.
Meanwhile, ongoing debates on the missing links and open questions within these literatures continue to inspire new generations of urban researchers as they work to decipher the urbanizing world in which we are living. In this brief essay, we cannot attempt to survey the intricacies of these diverse research traditions.
In so doing, we hope to stimulate urban researchers, professionals and activists to contribute their own critical energies to the tasks of understanding and shaping the future dynamics and trajectories of planetary urbanization.
Reasons Of Increase In Global Cities
Although the notion of a world city has a longer historical legacy, it was consolidated as a core concept for urban studies during the s, in the context of interdisciplinary attempts to decipher the crisis-induced restructuring of global capitalism following the collapse of the post-World War II political-economic and spatial order.
Until this period, the dominant approaches to urban studies tended to presuppose that cities were neatly enclosed within national territories and nationalized central place hierarchies.
Thus, for example, postwar regional development theorists viewed the nation-state as the basic container of spatial polarization between core urban growth centers and internal peripheries. Similarly, postwar urban geographers generally assumed that the national territory was the primary scale upon which rank-size urban hierarchies and city-systems were organized.
The possibility that urban development or the formation of urban hierarchies might be conditioned by supranational or global forces was not systematically explored. This nationalized vision of the urban process was challenged as of the late s and early s, with the rise of radical approaches to urban political economy.
The seminal contributions of neomarxist urban theorists such as Henri Lefebvre, David Harvey and Manuel Castells generated a wealth of new categories and methods through which to analyze the specifically capitalist character of modern urbanization processes. From this perspective, contemporary cities were viewed as spatial materializations of the core social processes associated with the capitalist mode of production, including, in particular, capital accumulation and class struggle.
While these new approaches did not, at that time, explicitly investigate the global parameters for contemporary urbanization, they did suggest that cities had to be understood within a macrogeographical context defined by the ongoing development and restless spatial expansion of capitalism.
In this manner, radical urbanists elaborated an explicitly spatialized and reflexively multiscalar understanding of capitalist urbanization. Within this new conceptual framework, the spatial and scalar parameters for urban development could no longer be taken for granted, as if they were pregiven features of the social world. Instead, urbanization was now increasingly viewed as an active moment within the ongoing production and transformation of capitalist sociospatial configurations.
Crucially, these new approaches to urban political economy were consolidated during a period in which, throughout the older industrialized world, cities, regions and national economies were undergoing any number of disruptive sociospatial transformations associated with the crisis of North Atlantic Fordism and the consolidation of a new international division of labor dominated by transnational corporations.
Fordism was the accumulation regime that prevailed in much of the Western industrialized world during the post-World War II period through the early s. Productivity increases in the Fordist model were grounded upon mass production technologies and tied closely to a class compromise between capital and labor that contributed to relatively collaborative industrial relations and rising working class incomes; the latter were in turn reinforced through an expanding welfare state apparatus that stabilized domestic demand for consumer goods.
Internationally, Fordism was regulated and reproduced through American cultural, financial and military hegemony and was rooted in the impressive dynamism of large-scale industrial regions across the older industrialized world. This sociospatial formation was widely superseded, after the s, due to the consolidation of increasingly flexible, specialized models of production, industrial organization and inter-firm relations, a tendential liberalization of various inherited institutional restraints upon market competition, a creeping commodification of social reproduction, generally weaker welfare states, and the emergence of new patterns of regional growth and decline across the world economy.
In the global North, older industrial regions such as Detroit, Chicago, the English Midlands, the German Ruhr district and parts of northern Italy underwent major economic crises characterized by plant closings, high unemployment rates and infrastructural decay. Meanwhile, new industrial districts generally located outside the traditional heartlands of Fordism — for instance, in Silicon Valley, southern California, parts of Southern Germany, Emilia-Romagna and parts of southern France — were experiencing unprecedented industrial dynamism and growth.
Outside of the global core zones of capitalism, new forms of industrialization were emerging in key manufacturing regions within late developing states, for instance in Mexico, Brazil, South Korea, Taiwan and India.
These transformations were accompanied by an increasingly prominent role for transnational corporations in all zones of the world economy.
Following the crisis of Fordism, extensive research emerged among urban scholars on topics such as industrial decline, urban property markets, territorial polarization, regionalism, collective consumption, local state intervention, the politics of place and urban social movements. Among many other, more specific insights, these research initiatives indicated that the sources of contemporary urban transformations could not be understood in purely local, regional or national terms.
Rather, the posts restructuring of cities and regions had to be understood as an expression and outcome of worldwide economic, political and sociospatial transformations.
Some Of The World's Best-Known Global Cities
Analogous arguments regarding the significance of global context were meanwhile articulated regarding other major aspects of urban and regional restructuring, for instance, the crystallization of new patterns of intra-national spatial inequality, the emergence of new, place- and region-specific forms of economic and social policy, and the activities of new territorially based social and political movements.
In opening up their analyses to the global dimensions of urban restructuring, critical urban political economists in the s and early s also began to draw upon several newly consolidated approaches to the political economy of capitalism that likewise underscored its intrinsically globalizing dimensions.
Foremost among these was the model of world system analysis developed by Immanuel Wallerstein and others, which explored the worldwide polarization of economic development and living conditions under capitalism among distinct core, semi-peripheral and peripheral zones.
World system theorists insisted that capitalism could be understood adequately only on the largest possible spatial scale, that of the world economy, and over a very long temporal period spanning many centuries. World system theorists thus sharply criticized the methodologically nationalist assumptions of mainstream social science, arguing instead for an explicitly globalist, long-term understanding of modern capitalism.
The rise of world system theory during the s resonated with a more general resurgence of neomarxian approaches to geopolitical economy during this period. In the context of diverse studies of transnational corporations, underdevelopment, dependency, class formation, crisis theory and the internationalization of capital, these new approaches to radical political economy likewise explored the global parameters of capitalism both in historical and contemporary contexts.
It is against this background that the emergence of the research field that has today come to be known as global cities research must be contextualized. Like the other critical analyses of urban restructuring that were being pioneered during the s, global city theorists built extensively upon the analytical foundations that had been established by neomarxist urban political economists, world system theorists and other radical analysts of global capitalism during the preceding decade.
According to Peter J. During the course of the s and s, the latter assumption was widely abandoned among critical urban researchers, leading to a creative outpouring of research on the interplay between urban restructuring and various worldwide economic — and, subsequently, political, cultural and environmental — transformations.
Numerous scholars contributed key insights to this emergent research agenda, but the most influential, foundational statements were presented by John Friedmann and Saskia Sassen.
What Is A Global City?
To date, the work of these authors is associated most closely with the global city concept, and is routinely cited in studies of the interplay between globalization and urban development. During the course of the late s and into the s, global city theory was employed extensively in studies of the role of major cities as global financial centers, as headquarters locations for TNCs and as agglomerations for advanced producer and financial services industries.
During this time, much research was conducted on the following several broad issues. Global city theory postulates the formation of a worldwide urban hierarchy in and through which transnational corporations coordinate their production and investment activities.
The geography, composition and evolutionary tendencies of this hierarchy have been a topic of intensive research and debate since the s. However, whatever their differences of interpretation, most studies of the global urban system have conceptualized this grid of cities simultaneously a as a fundamental spatial infrastructure for the accelerated and intensified globalization of capital, including finance capital; and b as a medium and expression of the new patterns of global polarization that have emerged during the posts period.
The consolidation of global cities is understood, in this literature, not only with reference to the global scale, on which new, worldwide linkages among cities are being established.
Just as importantly, researchers in this field have also suggested that the process of global city formation also entails significant social, technological and spatial transformations at the urban scale, within cities themselves, as well as within their surrounding metropolitan regions.
According to global cities researchers, the globalization of urban development has generated powerful expressions in the built and sociospatial environment.
For example, the intensified clustering of transnational corporate headquarters and advanced corporate services firms in the city core overburdens inherited land-use infrastructures, leading to new, often speculative, real estate booms as new office towers and high-end residential, infrastructural, cultural and entertainment spaces are constructed both within and beyond established downtown areas.
Cities of the World PDF
Meanwhile, the need for new socio-technological infrastructures and the rising cost of office space in the global city core may generate massive spillover effects on a regional scale, as small- and medium-sized agglomerations of corporate services and back offices crystallize throughout the urban region.
Consequently, gentrification ensues in formerly working-class neighborhoods and deindustrialized spaces, and considerable residential and employment displacement may be caused in the wake of rising rents and housing prices.
Global cities researchers have tracked these and many other spatial transformations at some length: the urban built environment is viewed as an arena of contestation in which competing social forces and interests, from transnational firms, developers and corporate elites to workers, residents and social movements — struggle over issues of urban design, land use and public space. Of course, such issues are hotly contested in nearly all contemporary cities.
Global cities researchers acknowledge this, but were particularly concerned in the s and s to explore their distinctive forms and outcomes in cities that had come to serve key command and control functions in the global capitalist system.
One of the most provocative, if also controversial, aspects of global cities research during its initial phase involved claims regarding the effects of global city formation upon the urban social fabric. For many, at the time, the so-called Blade-Runner -scenario, named after the famous futuristic movie directed by Ridley Scott in , provided a fitting set of images for these new patterns of sociospatial polarization within globalizing cities.
Urban world global city pdf creator
Based on an imaginary Los Angeles, the film expressed what many social scientists saw as a possible future in which most urban inhabitants would be migrants, many of them poor and often spatially sequestered in residential enclaves and ghettos.
Her work on London, New York and Tokyo suggested that broadly analogous, if place-specific patterns of social polarization were emerging in these otherwise quite different cities, as a direct consequence of their new roles as global command and control centers.
In close conjunction with the consolidation of global cities research around the above-mentioned themes, many critical urban scholars began to extend the empirical scope of the theory beyond the major urban command and control centers of the world economy — that is, cities such as New York, London, Tokyo; as well as various supraregional centers in East Asia Singapore, Seoul, Hong Kong , North America Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Toronto and western Europe Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Zurich, Milan.
In this important line of research, the basic methodological impulses of global city theory were applied to diverse types of cities around the world, but particularly in the global North, that were undergoing processes of economic and sociospatial restructuring that had been induced through geoeconomic transformations. Here, the central analytical agenda was to relate the dominant socioeconomic trends within particular cities — for instance, industrial restructuring, changing patterns of capital investment, processes of labor-market segmentation, sociospatial polarization and class and ethnic conflict — to the emergence of a worldwide urban hierarchy and the global economic forces that underlie it.
In this manner, analysts demonstrated the usefulness of global city theory not simply for analyzing the transnational command and control centers that had been investigated in the first wave of research in this field, but for exploring a broad range of urban transformations — also now including questions about the restructuring urban governance and the new contexts for urban social struggles — that were unfolding in conjunction with the posts wave of geoeconomic restructuring.
The debate on global city formation thus no longer focuses primarily on the headquarters locations for transnational capital, the associated agglomeration of specialized producer and financial services, and the resultant transformation of urban and regional spaces.
Increasingly, work on globalizing cities engages with a broad range of globalized or globalizing vectors — including not only economic flows, but the crystallization of new social, cultural, political, ecological, media and diasporic networks as well. In this context, scholars have begun to reflect more systematically on the nature of the very network connectivities that link cities together across the world system.
Such explorations have animated various strands of empirical research on cities, as well as ongoing debates about the nature of globalized urbanization itself. The contours of research on global cities are now increasingly differentiated as the field expands and advances, but certain shared concerns have nonetheless emerged.
Accordingly, we summarize here four major dimensions of global interurban connectivity that have, in recent years, been inspiring both research and debate among contemporary urbanists.
From global cities to globalized urbanization. By N. Brenner, R. Keil
In the s and s, scholars tended to assume that a single global urban hierarchy existed; debates focused on how to map it, and on what empirical indicators were most appropriate for doing so. However, the discussion has shifted considerably during the last decade, as researchers now argue that the world system is composed of multiple, interlocking interurban networks. While the question of transnational corporate command and control remains central, there is now an equal interest in global cultural flows, political networks, media cities and other modalities of interurban connectivity, including those associated with large-scale infrastructural configurations.
For instance, the cases of Washington D.
Religious centers such as Mecca, Rome and Jerusalem, among many others, constitute yet another such network. Moreover, in some cases, places that ostensibly lack strategic economic assets nonetheless acquire global significance through their role in the worldwide networks of social movement activism.
This line of investigation suggests that, interwoven around the structures of capital that underpin the world urban system, there also exists a complex lattice-work of interurban linkages that are constituted around a broad range of interconnectivities. In contrast to the somewhat simplistic understanding of global cities as neatly bounded, local places in which transnational capital could be anchored, several scholars have suggested alternative understandings of the geographies produced through the processes of globalized urbanization.
Doreen Massey, for instance, argues against the notion that global cities contain distinct properties that make them inherently global. Instead, she suggests an understanding of the global cities network as a set of dialectical relationships that connect actors in cities, and cities as collective actors, through a variety of simultaneously globalized and localized streams.
Other scholars have explored the ways in which processes of global city formation have been connected to rescaling processes that rework inherited configurations of global, national, regional and local relations, often in unpredictable, unexpected ways. Newer research explores the methodological and empirical implications of these interventions with reference to diverse aspects of globalized urbanization, from urban political ecologies and governance realignments to new social movement mobilizations.
Each breaks in important ways with inherited, relatively place-bound conceptualizations of global cities, pointing instead towards new concepts of relationality, topology and rescaling as bases for understanding the dynamics of globalized urbanization.
Much global cities research in the s and s focused on major cities and city-regions in the global North.
Global Cities - Full Documentary
More recently, several scholars have questioned this focus, and explored some of its problematic implications for the conceptualization of global city formation itself.