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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 8: Globalization and the megaregion: investigating the evolution of the Pearl River Delta in a historical perspective

Xu Zhang


Since the 1990s, global city-regions, mega-city regions and megaregions have attracted extensive attention in both academic and policy circles (Florida et al., 2008; Hall and Pain, 2006; Hoyler et al., 2008; Ross, 2009; Scott, 1998, 2001). Contrary to the views that predicted the ‘death of distance’ (Cairncross, 1997) or the ‘end of geography’ (O’Brien, 1992), many scholars believe that globalization does not lead to a simple dispersal of economic activities. On the contrary, globalization has reasserted the agglomerative tendency in many parts of the world, making large cities and urban regions even more important. On the one hand, while advances in technologies of transportation and communication enable some highly routinized economic activities to be transferred over ever-greater distances, the leading sectors of contemporary post-Fordist economy (namely high-tech production, neo-artisanal manufacturing, advanced professional services, cultural industries, see Scott, 2008), characterized by high levels of uncertainty, instability and complexity, actually raise the necessity of instant mutual interaction and the need for spatial proximity. Large city-regions, benefiting from the concentration of flexibly networked production systems and close integration with the world market, are primary choices for most modern economic activities (Scott, 2001, 2008; Scott and Storper, 2003). On the other hand, with increasing cross-border economic activities and intensified uncertainty gradually eroding (perhaps more accurately, restructuring) the capability (and willingness) of the nation state to protect all regional and sectoral interests within their jurisdictions, regions are directly confronted with increasing global competition and forced to take greater responsibility for their own prosperity.

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