Globalización

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GLOBAL CITY-REGIONS AND THE NEW WORLD SYSTEM Allen J. Scott, Department of Policy Studies and Department of Geography, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA., 90095. E-MAIL: ajscott@ucla.edu

Abstract As we approach the twenty-first century, a world-wide mosaic of large city-regions seems to be overriding (though is not effacing entirely) an earlier core-periphery system of spatial organization. The economicdynamics of these city-regions are analyzed with particular emphasis on the ways in which they tend to generate increasing returns effects and competitive advantages for local producers. The managerial tasks that these cityregions face raise many new issues about local economic development policy and institution building in the interests of social order. These issues lead on to further questionsabout democracy and citizenship in the new global mosaic of city-regions as well as in the new world system as a whole.

Preamble My goal in this paper is to outline some of the main features of the new world system that has evidently been taking shape since the end of the 1970s, and, more ambitiously, to propose a number of key concepts about the large global city-regions that increasinglyfunction as the basic geographic pillars of this system. The complex internal and external relations of these city-regions and their consequent growth dynamics present a number of extraordinarily perplexing challenges to researchers and policy makers alike as we enter the 21st century. I propose to use the term global city-regions to designate phenomena that bear some resemblance to the “world cities”first identified by Hall (1966) and Friedmann and Wolff (1982), and to the “global cities” of Sassen-Koob (1984) but whose essential social logic and contextual characteristics have evolved considerably since these pioneering studies were published. In simple geographic terms, a global city-region can be said to comprise any major metropolitan area or any contiguous set of metropolitan areastogether with a surrounding hinterland of variable extent — itself a locus of scattered urban settlements — whose internal economic and political affairs are bound up in intricate ways in intensifying and far-flung extra-national relationships. I shall refer to these extra-national relationships as a symptom of “globalization” while acknowledging that my rather casual use of this term does injustice tothe many conceptual niceties and debates with which it is currently associated. So far from being dissolved away as definite geographic entities by processes of globalization, cityregions by and large are actually thriving at the present time, and they are, if anything, becoming increasingly central to the conduct and coordination of modern life. In parallel with these developments, embryonicconsolidation of global city-regions as extended territorial entities is also occurring, as contiguous local political units (counties, metropolitan areas, municipalities, etc.) club together into spatially-polarized coalitions in search of effective bases from which to deal with both the threats and the opportunities of globalization. Any really thorough analysis of these issues should be able topoint unambiguously to the reflexive interactions between relevant global and the local outcomes. In its most accomplished form, this would entail a clear demonstration that globalization has definite and transformative impacts on regional development and urbanization, and that these latter phenomena in turn exert decisive influences on the trajectory of globalization. To be sure, the precise waysin which patterns of regional development and urbanization are actually worked out on the ground in relation to globalization vary enormously across geographic space, depending on local economic conditions and political traditions. That said, we are dealing here with a set of historic and geographic processes that have only recently become evident on the world stage, so that even in their most...
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