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 11: Brave new world?

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


In the final years of fordism, it was not uncommon for marxist scholars, like Mandel (1975) for example, to refer to the world around them as having entered the phase of “late capitalism,” a term that carries with it the more or less open implication that the end is nigh. The economic crises of the 1970s and the devastation that was visited on the major manufacturing regions of North America and Western Europe at this time lent an air of credibility to this manner of viewing the world. The emergence of postfordism and postmodernism over the 1980s was taken in other quarters as a further indication of impending doom, the former being interpreted as a morbid and opportunistic means of shoring up a crumbling economic system (Pollert 1991), and the latter being seen as a passionless, irrational substitute for a waning cultural modernity (Hicks 2011). However, capitalism, like nature, is vastly more cunning than most of the analysts who subject it to scrutiny. The “late capitalism” of the 1970s and early 1980s was not followed by systemic collapse, but by a significant reconfiguration of the technological and organizational arrangements underlying the production system, and – of special importance in the present context – by big shifts in the geographic outlines of economic development.

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