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Globalization’s New Urban Form?

Edited by John Harrison and Michael Hoyler

By critically assessing the opportunities and challenges posed by planning and governing at the megaregional scale, this innovative book examines the latest conceptualizations of trans-metropolitan landscapes. In doing so, it seeks to uncover whether megaregions are a meaningful new spatial framework for the analysis of cities in globalization. Situated within the broader contours of global urban analysis, the book draws together a range of thought-provoking contributions from scholars engaged in the study of trans-metropolitan regions. It thereby provides multiple paths of access for those wishing to familiarize themselves with this topical area of global urban studies.
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Chapter 2: Megaurban regions: epistemology, discourse patterns, big urban business

Markus Hesse


Recent debates have placed the concept of megaregions at the forefront of urban and economic geography, trying to make sense of the growth of ever larger metropolitan areas and addressing related urban forms, functions and settings (Ross, 2009). This line of thought is based on a largely empirical and political-economic perspective applied to a specific set of contents (data) and associated territory (for example, Hall and Pain, 2006). Thus it responds to well-known developments in urban growth and urban regional form once described by Gottmann’s (1957) famous treatise on the ‘Megalopolis’ more than five decades ago. Later on, colleagues from the US and Europe coined further urban-regional labels and signifiers, such as polycentric urban region, post-metropolis, metapolis, edge city or edgeless city (see, for example, Soja, 2000; Ascher, 1995). Whereas these urban-regional classifications tend to be mostly analytic, the megaregional narrative looks somewhat different: it also refers to competition between these regions, and it relies heavily on the language of boosterism (Todorovich, 2009). Moreover, there is an inherent notion of ‘policy boosterism’ behind it, that is the everyday comparative practice of city governments and mayors claiming to know what the big, important city-regions are about and how these machines can be steered, in order to provide growth and prosperity (cf. McCann, 2013). If the premier league of global city-regions or megaregions is about to emerge, what metropolitan mayor would not like to be part of this?

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