A World in Emergence

A World in Emergence

Cities and Regions in the 21st Century

Allen J. Scott

Beginning with the recent history of capitalism and urbanization and moving into a thorough and complex discussion of the modern city, this book outlines the dynamics of what the author calls the third wave of urbanization, characterized by global capitalism’s increasing turn to forms of production revolving around technology-intensive artifacts, financial services, and creative commodities such as film, music, and fashion. The author explores how this shift toward a cognitive and cultural economy has caused dramatic changes in the modern economic landscape in general and in the form and function of world cities in particular. Armed with cutting-edge research and decades of expertise, Allen J. Scott breaks new ground in identifying and explaining how the cities of the past are being reshaped into a complex system of global economic spaces marked by intense relationships of competition and cooperation.

Chapter 10: Cosmopolis

Allen J. Scott

Subjects: economics and finance, regional economics, urban economics, geography, cities, social policy and sociology, sociology and sociological theory, urban and regional studies, cities, urban economics, urban studies


The geographic realities now emerging around us are preeminently – though as we have just seen, not uniquely – constituted by an urban world, one in which some of the more dynamic and diversified forms of economic and social life are concentrated above all in large city-regions. These same city-regions make up the principal nodes of the global networks of spatial flows and interconnections that also typify this world. At the same time, we must not lose sight of the other geometries and topologies that characterize the contemporary condition, and in particular, the different spatial scales at which life is played out, not only at the local level but simultaneously at many more spatially extensive levels as well (Badie 1995; Brenner 2009; Jessop et al. 2008). In recent years there have been calls, notably by Marston et al. (2005), to abandon the notion of scale altogether and to view reality in terms of a “flat ontology” in which the world becomes just a multiplicity of coequal sites of social activity lacking any principle of spatial, juridical or functional ordering. This advocacy has the merit of correcting exaggerated views of the world as being composed of unidirectional top-down hierarchies, as for instance in the bare proposition that the forces of globalization determine the constitution and logic of local economic systems. It posits, instead, a world in which different socio-spatial assemblages interact with one another in complex relationships of antagonism and cooperation, producing “localized expressions of endo-events and exoevents” (Marston et al. 2005, p. 426).

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