Lars Nilsson, Institute of Urban History, Stockholm, March
Aims and methods
There are two overarching aims to the project: (i) to explore
and compare the local effects of globalisation ("glocalisation")
and European integration by examining a number of towns and
city trajectories in the late 20th century; (ii) to explore
how city authorities have perceived and responded to the
socio-economic, political and technological challenges to
which they have been subjected during the second half of
the 20th century.
Urban trajectories and European urban systems
A first and essential task is to construct a reliable database
with population figures for major European cities and metropolitan
areas since 1950. A rich amount of data, mainly from the
censuses, is already available in the national sources. The
problem is that the comparability of existing data is often
incomplete between nations and over time due to among other
things new definitions and changing of geographical borders.
Even comparisons of one and the same city over a longer period
of time raise a lot of complications. Population figures
from the year 2000 cannot directly be related to those from
1950. Available sources must be carefully scrutinised to
ascertain that data are ascribed to the same geographical
unit and comparable with each other. Thus, effects from changing
borders, new definitions and other external effects on population
figures must be eliminated. This is a time-consuming work
but absolute necessary if we want to have reliable data.
For Sweden The Institute of Urban History has already registered
population figures for all urban places ("tätorter")
in Sweden up to the year 2005.
The improved statistical figures will make it possible for
us to create urban trajectories there we can follow each city
and its development in a comparative perspective, and thereby
for example identify winners and losers. The database can also
be used for describing and analysing national urban systems.
As a prelude to the modern development urban population growth
1850-1950 will be examined, analysed and outlined.
The project will on an aggregate level identify the conditions
for winners and losers among major European cities in the restructuring
of the urban labour markets and economies. The restructuring
includes among other things the rise of producer services,
the coming of new financial markets due to deregulations and
privatisations, a process of deindustrialisation, the breakthrough
for new modes of communication like the Internet and mobile
phones, the development of a knowledge based economy with new
relations between science and industry, and increased competition.
The relationships between cities have therefore changed dramatically.
Some cities have prospered as places for control and coordination
of the flows of capital and information. Other cities have
suffered from extensive population losses. How have cities
perceived, and reacted to these steadily ongoing transformations.
How have the city systems of Europe changed? How can we understand
the processes behind these new patterns of growth?
"Glocalisation" – Globalisation in the local
This part of the project will examine the challenges and
opportunities that globalisation has posed at the local level.
Old industrial cities have undergone particularly profound
changes during the present wave of globalisation, but they
have by no means been the only cities to face serious challenges.
As Phil Hubbard and Tim Hall (in The Entrepreneurial City,
1998) argue, the internationalisation of economic activity
and other related changes ‘have instilled an edgy insecurity at all levels
of the urban hierarchy’, and have shaken both urban policies
and the ways in which these policies have been constructed
Special attention will here be given to major European cities
(Stockholm, Helsinki, Amsterdam, Madrid, Athens, Lisbon, Copenhagen,
Oslo or others). While unable to challenge the top-rank world
cities, these cities have nevertheless shown relatively strong
evidence of “world-city formation”, and as “gateway
cities” they have served broad regions.
The first objective is to explore the questions of how city
authorities have defined the economic challenges, threats and
opportunities presented by globalisation and how they have
responded to them. What will be of greatest interest here is
the interaction of the global and local forces: the ways in
which the new strategies have evolved from the interplay of
the global and local politics. Thecomparative approach used
in this project provides an opportunity to explore why the
cities have done what they have done, since it often shows
that they could have done otherwise. By revealing what happened
but also what did not, a comparative approach clarifies the
choices the cities have made – what they accepted and
what they rejected.
Another consequence of the restructuring process is that old
elites have been replaced by new elites with other attitudes
and life styles. The demand from well-educated and well-paid
people on domestic and other private services has certainly
increased. A new informal urban economy may therefore have
developed with immigrants and even women making up a substantial
part of the labour force. We can easily imagine that the rise
of the new elites and an increasing volume of immigrants in
low-paid jobs will result in escalating social and ethnical
segregation. The new urban life styles will probably be followed
by new demands on the urban space including changed residential
New quickly expanding branches such as financial services
(banking, insurance companies) and other producer services
have quite other demands on the urban space than the old disappearing
manufacturing companies. The new dynamic activities are for
example less space consuming and therefore more attractive
for inner city locations. This will probably be reflected in
the price of land and property.
High population pressure has together with the social and
economic restructuring (the new post-industrial economy) been
correlated with new ideas of urban planning and building. The
modernist style with rather sparse settlements has been replaced
by an interest for high-rise buildings and a more dense and
compact model. There has been a return to 19th century ideals
and inner city norms. It has also been argued that skyscrapers
can be seen as a response to the ecological challenges, because
they save nature and greenery. Thus, an analysis of urban trajectories
and causes of urban growth will raise a wide range of questions
concerning local development.
A second objective relates therefore to the spatial organisation
of cities. Global forces have dramatically changed both the
social structure and spatial organisation of cities during
the last decades. Several studies concerning power and urban
space have shown that globalisation has served to increase
polarisation within cities: it has generated new gaps between “have” and “have-nots” and
created new vulnerabilities to political turmoil. Theorists,
such as Zukin in The Culture of Cities, 1995 and Soja
in The Urbanization of Injustice, 1997, have argued
that globalisation has shaped a fundamental new city. The project
will contribute to these debates about the character of the
post-industrial city. Have global forces created an entirely
new urban form, a post-modern or post-fordist city, which is
fundamentally different from its predecessors?
In recent years, many writers have questioned this argument.
They acknowledge that new forces have dramatically changed
the spatial organisation of cities, but at the same time they
emphasise continuities in urban development. Some scholars
have broadened the discussion even further to include processes
that have served to confine conflicts and bridge gaps during
the era of globalisation (see for example Beauregard & Haila
in Globalizing Cities: A New Spatial Order, 2000).
The project will contribute to these debates for example by
examining the ways in which urban life has been regulated at
the time when globalisation has increased polarisation in the
cities. The aim will be to explore, for example, how the ‘globalised
elites’ and the city authorities have maintained their
power and legitimacy and how their power has been contested.
However, the attention is focused not only on the processes
that have polarised urban societies but also on the processes
that have held urban societies together, despite all difficulties.
In other words, the attempt is to examine mechanisms that have
emerged or have been created for confining conflicts and mediating
differences in income, gender, culture, language, religion
or access. What has been the role of civil society (voluntary
associations, organisations, ad hoc groups etc which all are
important intermediaries in the formation of collective identity)
in confining conflicts and eroding boundaries within the cities
during globalization? And how the local governments have intervened
either directly or through organisations to diminish segregation