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Michiel van Meeteren

A commonly encountered perspective in textbooks explains the existence of cities as function of being in the middle of something. Cities are centres of political, cultural, economic and/or religious life, explaining the large religious buildings, stock exchanges or pantheons in the city. According to many (for instance, Bird 1977, p. 1; Friedmann 1968, p. 236; Lefebvre 1974 [1991], pp. 331–34), the associated notion of centrality amounts to a key building block of what the city is about. This chapter surveys the urban theories that try to understand the benefits, the side effects and the desires associated with being in the middle. Urban centrality’s core idea is that being in the middle exerts spatial effects. The middle can induce a desire to be there, a centripetal tendency. Authors (for example, Bobek 1927) emphasize the magnetic attraction of urban places, invoking images of being pulled to bright lights in the big city. Alternatively, being in the middle can be something we are pulled away from, a centrifugal tendency, for instance when the middle is too expensive, too crowded or too dirty. These centripetal and centrifugal tendencies were first theorized as urban phenomena by Schlüter (1899, cited in Müller-Wille 1978, p. 50) in Germany and by H.G. Wells (1902, cited in Bird 1977, p. 104) in the anglophone world, and were further elaborated in the subsequent century. Colby (1933) provides an overview of what these tendencies entail in early twentieth-century cities. The balance between countervailing centripetal and centrifugal tendencies generates distinctive divisions of labour and zonal patterns of urban fabric within a particular technological conjuncture. Colby (1933) notes how new technological possibilities, transportation modalities and changing economic fortunes continuously upset these equilibriums and change centralities (Van Meeteren et al. 2016a).

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Michael Barke and Peter J. Taylor

In her classic theory of economic development Jane Jacobs (1971) identifies explosive city growth as the key mechanism. Less well known is her description of a broader urban consequence of this rapid change that she terms the rounding out of the city, a new array of goods and services for the local population. Her list of these for her ‘home town’ Scranton, Pennsylvania, in the first half of the twentieth century are given as a zoo, a museum of natural history, a central public, reference library, several hospitals, ‘several stuffy but imposing clubs’, departmental stores, city departments for fire-fighting and public health services, and a trolley-car system (Jacobs 1970, p. 160). That is, although Jacobs defines a city as a settlement that experiences one or more momentous economic spurts, it only begins to more broadly function as we expect of a city during its period of rounding out. In this chapter we equate Jacobs’s rounding out with development of an urban associational life, unplanned and voluntary creation of a thick layer of small social networks riding the rapid economic changes. They can be interpreted as buffers against the uncertainties and anonymity consequent upon urban growth (Neal 2013, p. 41). This process is explored for Newcastle upon Tyne, England, in the nineteenth century. Our choice of Newcastle for this case study follows on from previous research on economic spurts through urban demographic growth that found this city to be one of the fastest growing cities in the world for two periods, 1800–49 and 1850–99 (Taylor et al. 2010). Subsequently we have described this economic success in detail, showing how Newcastle’s division of labour grew in complexity as it was transformed from a centre for coal export at the beginning of the nineteenth century to become a large city-region and industrial powerhouse by century’s end (Barke and Taylor 2014). This was also a period of massive rounding out in the form of a vast diversity of voluntary associations. Thus huge economic change was accompanied by equally momentous cultural, political and social additions to the activities of the city. In this contribution we outline the methods we have deployed to describe and analyse a growing associational life behind transformation into a multifaceted urban society.

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Kathy Pain and Shuai Shi

In a globalising world economy, cities have increasingly come to be defined not by the size of their built up area or population but by their functions in networks that connect them to capital flows that cross territorial boundaries (Rozenblat 2010). As Sassen (1991, p. 631) wrote it in her global cities book, ‘massive trends toward spatial dispersion of economic activities at the metropolitan, national and global level, which we associate with globalisation, have contributed to a demand for new forms of territorial centralisation of top-level management and control operations’. As centralities for management and control functions in network enterprises operating at different spatial scales, globalising cities can be expected to be economically vibrant owing to their role in facilitating the circulation and accumulation of intellectual and financial capital. Moreover, according to protagonists of Jacobs (1984), the vibrancy of these cities spills over metropolitan boundaries to form prosperous globalising city regions (Scott 2001a, 2001b; Hall and Pain 2006). A new paradigm of city networks, functions and flows has therefore overtaken the traditional paradigm of places and territorial borders as the structure of the contemporary global space economy. In the networked economy that has been evolving for half a century, it follows that city regions are differentiated not only by their physical pattern of urban development, but also by their functional pattern in network space. In consequence, city-region spatial form (morphology) and city-region Jacobsean economic expansion, while interrelated, are distinctive development processes that should not be confused with each other (Taylor and Pain 2007; Pain 2012). However, the concept of polycentrism has referred to morphological space without paying due regard to network space, functions and flows, for almost two decades in a policy to rebalance uneven regional economic development in Europe (European Commission 1999; Davoudi 2003; Duhr and Nadin 2005; Halbert et al. 2006; Pain 2008). Thus, European spatial planning strategy has promoted the development of polycentric urban regions (PURs) based on examples of regions populated by many similar-sized urban centres, such as the Randstad region in the Netherlands and the Rhine-Ruhr region in Germany, which are regarded as a superior spatial form to monocentric regions dominated by one centre such as South East England and the French Paris region.

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Karima Kourtit, Peter Nijkamp and Tigran Haas

Since the early history of mankind, human beings have tried to build settlements that were fit for purpose. In a nomadic or low-technology society human settlements had to be by necessity flexible and small. Large cities hardly existed and were only built to demonstrate or strengthen political and military power. However, even these cities were – compared with current standards – relatively small and their management demanded enormous efforts (for example, import of agricultural produce, fresh water, sewerage systems and jobs for citizens). Cities of more than 1 million inhabitants were, until a few centuries ago, a miraculous urbanistic exception (see Tellier 2009). This situation lasted in most countries until the age of the Industrial Revolution (mid-nineteenth century) when cities started to grow. With the worldwide uninterrupted population growth since two centuries ago (the first demographic revolution), cities went through an accelerated growth path. This has led over the past half a century to a double urbanization process: most cities were growing and became large cities, while several large cities reached the size of megacities (more than 10 million inhabitants). This development is clearly demonstrated in China which currently has more than 60 cities with a population exceeding 1 million inhabitants, while the number of megacities in this country is also showing rapid growth. Worldwide, we witness a megatrend towards more and bigger cities. This revolutionary phenomenon in the history of urbanism is sometimes termed the New Urban World (Kourtit 2019). In the past decade, our world has reached a stage where more people are residing and living in urban areas than in rural areas. This new species of mankind is sometimes named the homo urbanus. The city has become the most attractive settlement place for the majority of people on our planet. The United Nations has, therefore, named this new epoch in the geographic-demographic history of our world the urban century.

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Brian D. Christens and Daniel G. Cooper

Community organizing occurs when residents collaboratively investigate and take collective action on issues that concern them. These issues of concern often include safety, educational quality, community development, improvements to neighborhoods and the physical environment, and access to health care, affordable housing, transportation and employment opportunities. Often, these concerns are local manifestations of macro-level forces, such as neoliberal globalization and structural racism. In order to achieve changes in local policies and systems in spite of these forces, residents often seek to build longlasting local organizing initiatives that are capable of sustaining social action, holding decision-makers and institutions accountable to address concerns of local residents across a variety of issues. Organizing is therefore a way for local residents to enhance their quality of life in tangible ways while simultaneously resisting and challenging oppressive sociopolitical forces and working to advance social justice. Many local organizing initiatives are built as coalitions or federations of smaller geographically- or institutionally situated efforts. Just as labor-organizing federations support efforts across many different workplaces, community organizing federations (often termed initiatives) support efforts within and among community centers, faith-based institutions, schools, neighborhood organizations, and other nonprofit and voluntary organizations. For example, the Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) in Chicago currently lists 37 member institutions including faith-based institutions (for example, a Lutheran church, an Ethiopian Hebrew congregation, and the Inner-City Muslim Action Network, itself a separate federation), a number of elementary, middle, and high schools, a community development corporation, and several social service organizations. Many times, this type of federated structure is used for two purposes: (1) to equip local organizing committees or efforts within each member institution (sometimes termed affiliates), which may organize around issues of their own choosing, and (2) to create a broader federated structure that can carry out campaigns on issues of concern across the initiative or federation.

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Luís M.A. Bettencourt

Complex networks provide a particularly compelling theoretical and modeling approach to cities and urban systems. While cities are made of people, places and organizations, it is the social, economic and physical connections among these entities that start to reveal how and why cities exist, are sustained and grow (Hall 1998; Jacobs 1985). These connections also play a role in structuring individual entities themselves, for example, via firm interactions in markets, the role of institutions in shaping behavior and the general tendency for creating knowledge and labor specialization so characteristic of professional occupations in cities. Thus, a shift in perspective away from places and individuals, towards emphasizing various types of interaction networks has been advocated as one of the cornerstones for constructing a more integrated and general science of cities (Batty 2017; Bettencourt 2021), for emphasizing the importance of human ecological factors (Sampson 2012) and, even, as a general philosophical stance for capturing the complexity and fluidity of human social phenomena (Deleuze et al. 2012). Empirical and theoretical developments now underway are also starting to show how quantitative network properties and concepts constitute a natural target for developing general urban theory (Bettencourt 2013), beyond the descriptive statistics of data.

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Michael Batty

There are multiple theoretical, academic and professional perspectives associated with the study of cities. A key distinction is between urban science that reflects the city itself in relation to its physical form and function, in contrast to city planning where the main focus is on reconciling conflicting views about how the quality of life and the sustainability of cities might be improved. The development of networks in each of these domains is very different. In urban science, the concern is for the way the city functions through a multitude of networks that embody urban processes that distribute energy, materials, ideas and social interactions between its many parts. In city planning, however, the concern is largely with ways in which different views about the future of cities can be represented and then reconciled, where the network of connections between various factors that are important in this process of design often remains implicit. That is, networks in urban science are those that define the city and its component parts, whereas networks in city planning define ways in which ideas about the future are related to one another. Most of the chapters in this book are about the former – urban processes that determine how cities function and evolve – whereas in this chapter, the emphasis is on how networks can be used to represent processes associated with the actual planning of the city. These two different approaches to networks are usually developed by different constituencies of researchers and professionals, and there are few attempts at reconciling them (Batty 2013). In city planning, there are many varieties of process that are used to explore the future; from intuitively inspired design to formal policy-making organized through different actors and stakeholders, to mathematical models that seek to find the best locations that optimize the goals and objectives that define more sustainable, equitable and efficient futures. Here we articulate these processes formally, defining various objectives that either support or conflict with one other, and which must be resolved to produce a consensus or compromise. The way in which our model of the planning process works is by defining the key relationships between actors or agents who have a stake in the outcome (the future plan), with this set of relationships represented as a network. The network provides the basis for examining conflicts and concurrences, and then resolving these if this is possible. To demonstrate its use, we define different variants of planning problem to illustrate the process of resolution that the model attempts to achieve and, in this case, we assume that the different objectives can be represented by different physical locations which imply where the best locations are for the future city. As these locations differ, the model enables a rational process of conflict resolution which homes in on the overall best location. This is achieved by altering the location or by resolving the differences in this location as actors in the process become aware of the conflicts involved and the need to compromise between them.

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Romina Cachia and Isidro Maya-Jariego

Distinct ties offering diverse social support can be vital when moving to a new location. A move to another place implies significant changes in our social support network. Existing ties may be replaced, and new ties are expected to be established. This morphological change in the social support network is further altered with the prevalence of new communications media. Sustaining ties through virtual communication has resulted in transnational social support networks. It has been observed that tangible support (instrumental and social companionship) is strongly related to short distances, while intangible support (emotional and conflict) is more likely to stay intact despite the geographical distance (Dahinden 2010; Herz 2015; Mok and Wellman 2007; Ryan et al. 2008). The social support network is a great source of information for understanding how social support is derived in different mobility contexts and in different cities. This chapter examines the social support networks of foreigners living in Seville. The study is based on in-depth interviews with 95 highly qualified and skilled foreigners who lived in Seville for a minimum of six months and each of their 30 ties in their personal networks (n = 2850). The respondents were selected from four distinct communities, namely, Erasmus students, musicians for the symphonic orchestra, partners of researchers working for the European Commission (EC) and Japanese flamenco artists. These communities provided a framework of analysis, through which four types of mobility patterns allowed us to distinguish between temporary stays, with short-term return (Erasmus students), continuous displacements in itinerancy (partners of workers of the EC), recurring temporary stays (Japanese flamenco dancers) and indefinite settlement (musicians of the symphonic orchestra). Utilizing personal networks, we explore how mobility patterns can have an influence on the provision of social support.

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Denise Pumain

Philosophy then social sciences took an interest in defining what a city is and finding ways for improving its political organization, shaping its esthetics or developing its performance. Many theories flourished that provide a vision about what ‘a’ city is or how it should be. For example, economists constructed, since the first suggestions by Marshall (1890), a theory of ‘the’ city as a means of offering agglomeration economies that provides a subset of diverse externalities favorable to enhance the functioning and development of firms (Fujita et al. 1999). Among all the social sciences, geographers were the first, followed by historians and archaeologists, to engage in searching for a theory that is not that of ‘the’ city but which readily admits that cities form in networks connecting cities of differentiated size and function (Peris et al. 2018). Building a theory is a long and complex process. Ideally starting with observation, measurement, following a formalization in logical, mathematical or computing models, then validation through many empirical tests on international comparisons, theory also interferes with available data, technologies, current scientific paradigms and ideological backcloth of the time during the course of history. Many controversies and personal or political rivalries take their place in what is by no means a linear and regularly constructive process. We provide here a very simplified historical view by reducing the emergence of urban theories to three main steps: first, the observation of their relationships with territories and trade networks; second, how they integrated observation of socio-economic changes within concepts of systems dynamics and co-evolution; and third, how they may take further inspiration from the recent availability of not yet fully explored data about real-time interaction networks at all geographical scales.

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Ben Derudder and Peter J. Taylor

The Globalization and World Cities (GaWC) research network was founded at Loughborough University in 1998 by Peter Taylor and Jon Beaverstock as an invitation to urban scholars across the world to help understand the changing worlds of cities under conditions of contemporary globalization. These changes were so dynamic, so unusual and so worldwide that they were beyond the comprehension of any one group of researchers in one place to even begin to adequately research this then-emerging field of study. GaWC’s core business has been to more narrowly focus on one conspicuous topic in research on globalized urbanization: the external connections of world cities. Just as world/global cities research as a whole never intended to provide a comprehensive account of globalized urbanization (Parnreiter 2014; van Meeteren et al. 2016; Harrison and Hoyler 2018), so too the formal analysis of worldwide networks between cities is not necessarily the main activity of world/global cities research. Nonetheless, as the latter literature is premised upon the existence of interactions between cities, these should not be neglected as they so commonly were in earlier global/world city literature (Taylor 2001a); GaWC was thus formed to aid in rectifying this situation. Although world/global city research in general and GaWC in particular is best described as an ‘invisible college’ (Acuto 2011; Bassens and van Meeteren 2015) – that is, a continuously evolving group of authors in a particular research field who constitute a social circle, but have varying degrees of involvement and pursue different research questions on the basis of shared interests – the research ethos of GaWC at large has been critical realist (Sayer 1992). In practice this implies that we firmly believe that these extensive quantitative studies should exist alongside, and be connected to, intensive qualitative investigations of world city-formation (see Watson and Beaverstock 2014). Examples of a fruitful combination of formal quantitative analysis and qualitative research strategies can be found in studies on the connections between London and Frankfurt at the time of the euro currency launch (Beaverstock et al. 2001) and on the connections between New York, Los Angeles and Detroit in light of changing advertising practices (Faulconbridge et al. 2011). Literature that contextualizes, challenges and provides formative interpretations of extensive quantitative studies remains a vibrant strand of research (Watson and Beaverstock 2014), and includes Lai’s (2012) analysis of the Beijing–Shanghai–Hong Kong triad and W—jcik’s (2013) analysis of the commonality, complementarity and connectivity between New York’s and London’s financial markets. In addition, the broader question of the nature of world cities as sites through which economies flourish is also being addressed (Taylor 2013; Bassens and van Meeteren 2015).