Chapter 8: Social milieu and built form of the city
Over the course of the 20th century and into the first decade of the 21st, capitalism has evolved from a plurinational base, coinciding principally with the country-based economies of North America and Western Europe, into a steadily integrating, if still quite unfinished, global system. Over this same extended period of time, increasing numbers of cities around the world have been brought within the ambit of the capitalist system and hence have been at least partially remade in its image. To be sure, as Kloosterman (2010) and others have suggested, individual cities are always unique in certain ways, and we should resist the temptation to describe them as though everything about them was cloned from a standard set of genetic instructions. This remark applies with special force, no doubt, to the social geography of the city where particular kinds of cultural logics with strong local-cum-national inflections are almost always in play at different times in different parts of the world. Even so, we can certainly talk in meaningful general terms about certain forms of intra-urban space specific to the fordist capitalism of North America and Western Europe in the 20th century, and I shall argue that we can talk in equally meaningful terms about intra-urban space in a widening circle of cities that lie under the sway of a globalizing cognitive–cultural capitalism in the 21st century. In what follows, I seek to identify some of these terms in an argument that lays particular stress on the dynamics of residential space and built form, starting with a brief scene-setting view of how these aspects of city life were resolved in the era of fordist capitalism.
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