In the 1920s, researchers of the Chicago School developed what is often considered as the first theories and models designed to explain neighbourhood change. Subsequent research into neighbourhood change has been carried out in many different ways and has focused on different fields. The early researchers considered neighbourhood change as a more or less inevitable result of a filtering process that causes changes in areas with an ageing housing supply. Others have paid more attention to the importance of a strong neighbourhood attachment, while again others have referred to the impact of larger economic and social transformations on neighbourhoods. Researchers have also aimed to capture the process of neighbourhood change, and of decay in particular, in all-embracing models in which several variables and developments are linked. Despite the comprehensiveness of many models, we think none of them is all-embracing; there is still room for improvement and addition. This paper sets out an approach, which combines crucial elements of different theories, approaches and models. The aim is to find out how we can use the existing theories in the case of the post-WWII large housing estates in Europe. Especially in these areas significant physical, economic and social changes have emerged in the past two decades. The central questions to be addressed in this paper are therefore: To what extent can models and theories explaining neighbourhood change, and decay in particular, be applied to post-WWII large housing estates in European cities? And how can the useful elements of these models and theories be combined to explain the development of European post-WWII housing estates?
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.
In this paper the focus is on the explanation of divided cities. We will make clear that many elements of older theories are still very relevant whendivisions within cities have to be explained. This is obviously still the case in aworld which is described by a large number of geographers and urban sociologists as increasingly globalising. A main argument could be that in the last three decades or so the process of globalisation has become enormously in?uential in explaining changes within cities, but in this paper we want to modify this notion. Our argument will be that attention for globalisation is useful, but that we should never exaggerate the in?uence of this process in a city as a whole and in parts of that city. In other words: we want to challenge the importance of globalisation when explaining divided cities or urban change in general.
Over the last 20 years there has been a vigorous discussion of evidence related to new and more intense social and spatial divisions within European cities. These contributions have identified social and spatial polarisation associated with globalisation, deindustrialisation and the increasing income inequalities arising from these. However, various ‘moderating’ factors were identified to explain why different outcomes were emerging in European cities than in their American counterparts. In this context much of the literature has focused on types of national welfare state and as these arrangements have come under pressure across Europe it may be expected that differences from the USA may decline. However there are other literatures that, rather than emphasizing the importance of national welfare states, refer to the stronger interventionist traditions of European governments and the distinctive characteristics of European cities. Differences in these dimensions within Europe – including those related to urban planning and decommodified housing – do not correlate with typologies of national welfare states and suggest continuing divergence within Europe and between Europe and the USA. Working within this framework, this introduction to a special issue argues that although European welfare states have weakened, other factors continue to sustain differences between European and American cities.