International Handbook of Urban Policy, Volume 1
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International Handbook of Urban Policy, Volume 1

Contentious Global Issues

Edited by H. S. Geyer

This first Handbook in a series of three original reference works looks at globally contentious urban policy issues from a wide variety of different angles and perspectives. Matters related to urban densification, population mobility, urban inequality and sustainability are analysed in a manner that will not only interest the advanced student but also the novice.
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Chapter 4: The Evolving Urban Economic Landscape: Trends in the Past and Present, from Local to Global

H. S. Geyer


1 H.S. Geyer Introduction Although some are questioning globalization’s existence or relevancy (Douglas and Wind, 1987; Beinart, 1997), most regard it as a growing force in the development of economies all over the world. Certainly, no one can today deny globalization’s effect on the industrial landscape of the world with any measure of conviction. It is visible and it is real. But globalization is not a recent phenomenon, it has always been there. Only its effects were not as visible and overwhelming as it has become in recent years. In fact, for a long time its effect was almost undetectable, infiltrating our economic environment quietly, systematically and incrementally. Only when one really thought about it would one realize what affect it had on one’s life. This was until the personal computer and communication satellites came. Then, everything changed. Cyberspace exploded. It changed our perceptions about geographic space. It infected our personal lives and invaded our economic space, made it more defined, purposeful, efficient, faster, bigger, and above all, more visible. As Batty (1993, p. 615) said: it is ‘layered on top of, within and between the fabric of traditional geographic space’. Initially some thought that globalization would cause the collapse of geographic space, that economically speaking, it would flatten the world and shrink space to such an extent that friction of distance would eventually become an insignificant locational factor (Graham, 1998). Tools such as the computer, the Internet and the cell phone,...

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