The Language of Globalization

The language of globalization deserves some explicit attention. The issue is more than one of careless use of words: intellectually, such muddy use of the term fogs any effort to separate cause from effect, to analyze what is being done, by whom, to whom, for what, and with what effect. Politically, leaving the term vague and ghostly permits its conversion to something with a life of its own, making it a force, fetishizing it as something that has an existence independent of the will of human beings, inevitable and irresistible. This lack of clarity in usage afflicts other elements of the discussion of globalization as well, with both analytic and political consequences. Let me outline some problem areas, and suggest some important differentiations.


What’s So New About Divided Cities?

A divided city is certainly nothing new, historically. Invidious differentiation may be the most accurate, if not the most monosyllabic, formulation for the real issue. Not inequality per se, but inequality that reflects a hierarchical relationship, one of domination and subordination, inclusion and exclusion, privilege and deprivation, is the policy concern.  Whether the new outweighs the old depends on the purpose of the question.

Globalizing Cities – Conclusion: A Changed Spatial Order

This concluding chapter of Globalizing Cities: A New Spatial Order? describes the changes in the spatial order of cities. Reflection on the importance of governmental action in determining the extent and nature of changes in the spatial order of cities leads us to the single most important conclusion of our study: that the pattern of development of cities today is subject to control, is not  the result of uncontrollable forces, is not  the result of iron economic laws whose effects states are powerless to influence. On the contrary, in case after case we have found agency to have a major impact on structure: the actions of the state, of nation states, determined by the balance of power between/ among contending forces in the economic and political sphere, is a major determinant of a city’s spatial pattern, heavily influenced though it may be by the contingencies we have mentioned.