ECONOMIC CONTEXT OF
Urban Social Geo of Cities has been shaped by
processes operating over many years.
Diverse processes such as;
-social and cultural
Each realm affects the other but they have room for
Pre-industrial cities were
Their main division
appears to have been that
between the élite who
lived in the exclusive
central core and the mass
of population who lived
around the periphery of
Sjoberg’s idealized model of the
The Growth of the Industrial
The modern city has
inherited few of the social
characteristics of the pre-
For the most, cities have altered radically; most of the
older fabric of the city has been replaced (often many
times), and the relative location of the city’s major
components and the relationships between them have
Power and status no longer determined by traditional
values but by wealth.
Workplace and home have become separated.
Family structures have been transformed.
The city has been turned inside out with the rich
exchanging their central location for the peripheral
location of the poor.
The cause: primarily economic
The rise of capitalism as the dominant
means of production and exchange
reinforced by the emerging technology
during the industrial revolution.
New transport services and massive
immigration accelerated the rate of urban
growth-cities grew outwards and upwards
forming distinctive suburban zones.
Models of the Spatial Structure
of Industrial Cities
This spatial structure of concentric zones, with the
working class concentrated near the centre, was to
become typical of many Victorian cities.
By 1900, London could be seen in terms of 4 zones:
Zone 1 – most sever crowding and extreme poverty.
Zone 2 – slightly less wealthy in the western sector and
rather less crowded and impoverished than elsewhere.
Zone 3 – inhabited by the short distance commuter
belonging mainly to the lower-middle class.
Zone 4 – belonged exclusively to the wealthy.
Charles Booth’s social maps in the
“Life and Labour of the people of London”
Marxism and the Industrial City
Within the rapid changing context of the
19th century industrial city Karl Marx
formed his ideas about capitalist society.
The key concept in his analysis was the
underlying economic base of society – the
system of industrial capitalism – which he
termed “mode of production”.
Two Further elements of his theory:
“forces of production” – the technology underpinning the
“social relations of production” – the legal system of property
rights and trade union legislation that governed the system of
Marxist Critique of Capitalism
Marx argued the price of commodities should not be
determined by their “exchange value” (the amount they
could command on the market) but by their “use value”
(their capacity to satisfy human needs).
According to his “labour theory of value” the prices of
commodities should reflect the amount of socially
necessary labour that went into their production.
This perspective enabled Marx to argue that the “surplus
value” was being wrongly taken in the form of huge
profits by factory owners from the workers.
The Contemporary City:
Change has been more complex, with successive
quantum jumps in technology bringing a greater
range of products for mass consumption, new
means of transport freeing production from fixed
locations, and high levels of mobility generating
large areas of low-density suburban
Appearance of the Megalopolis
The urban structure arising
from this modern economy is
epitomized – in its extreme
form – by the megalopolis, a
urban region characterized by
a high proportion of low-
density settlement and
complex networks of economic
specialization to facilitate the
production and consumption
of sophisticated products and
Urban life is shaped by the contradictory forces of
centralization and decentralization.
The concentration of power in the giant
corporations has made for a centralization of
administrative and bureaucratic activity.
Locational freedom of many shops and business
enterprises has prompted a decentralization of
jobs; the increase in white-collar workers, together
with the consequent rise in average incomes and
the more widespread availability of automobiles,
has decentralized the residential structure of the
city, creating enormous tracts of low-density
As a result, land use in the
city has become even
more specialized and
The decentralization of the
city, together with the
mobility afforded by the
automobile, has increased
the range of opportunities
available to the affluent
urbanite for employment,
shopping, recreation and
Fordism and the Industrial City
The origins of the concept of Fordism can be
traced back to the Italian communist Gramsci
(1973) but the notion has been most extensively
developed by a group of French Marxian scholars in
what is known as regulation theory.
Since the early development of industrial capitalism,
all too frequently there has been the capacity to
produce far more goods and services than people
have money to consume.
Regulation theorists argue that such tensions and
problems are overcome by various regulative
Fordism is a very wide ranging concept that can be
used to analyze changes in at least 3 different
Changes in the way people work.
Changes in the way industrial production is structured.
Changes in the organization of society as whole (in particular
the ways in production and consumption are coordinated).
It is associated with the mass production of
The Principles of Scientific
Ford borrowed 3 main ideas from Frederick
Taylor (an American engineer) called the
“Principles of Scientific Management”:
All tasks should be as simple as possible.
Clear division between physical and mental labour with all
planning and organization undertaken by managers.
“Time and motion” studies should be used to identify the
most efficient working practices.
The New Factory System
Henry Ford’s factory system
resulted in a productive linking
of the technical division of
labour (the work tasks that
needed to be done) with the
social division of labour
(the skills of the people
available to do the work).
Fordism helped to consolidate
the classic landscape of
The Affects of Fordism
New roads enabled urban dwellers to decentralize
out of inner-city areas into surrounding low-density
suburban areas which resulted in greater distances
between home, work and centres for shopping, etc.
Towards the Post-Fordist City
A core problem as to why the Fordist system ran
into trouble was declining productivity which had
been linked to a variety of factors. Among the
most important of these factors are the following:
Failure to invest sufficiently in research and development (a
particular problem in the US and the UK).
The increasing costs of raw materials.
The increasing costs associated with safety and environmental
Market saturation of mass-produced goods and increasing
consumer hostility to uniform, poor-quality goods.
Towards the Post-Fordist City
System rigidity in the face of increasing consumer and market
volatility stemming from the high capital costs of establishing
production lines under Fordism.
Adversarial industrial relations and widespread labour unrest.
Repetitive, boring, physically demanding assembly-line work
leading to alienation among the workforce and poorly
assembled, low-quality products.
The Post-industrial City
Concept came about during 1950’s and
1960’s when Fordism most popular
Argued that heavy industry was losing
importance and being replaced by service
Development commonly takes place
outside of traditional manufacturing
Push now to reintroduce service
employment into traditionally
Technological advancements have enabled
“back office” tasks to be decentralized
Reinforcement of social polarization in the
service industry as has been an increase in
the number of female employees
Service growth seen as high competition
between cities for employment
– Service growth very mobile due to large
amount of female workers and suitable office
Hard to define…usually associated with
importance of growing multinational
corporations operating in more than one
Floating exchange rates due to rise of
European and Japanese economies over the
that of the US
Production and marketing integrated on
global scale…lots being made in many
different locations…results in reduced costs
Globalization also associated with broader
global culture…widespread diffusion of
western values of materialism
Results in homogenization of the
culture…helped by tech. communication
Still some resistance from Islamic
fundamentalism and movements for
Nations are forced to become global due to the
speed at which money can move across borders
This results in “hollowing out” of the nation state
as money and power is continually passed up to
the transnational governments
Social polarization (inequalities) one of the
Creates close relationship between global and
local forces…every urban centre is affected
Knowledge Economies and
the Informational City
Development of digital technology has
resulted in cyberspace
Argued that telematics (linking
computers and digital media
equipment) will result in dissolution of
existing forms of city life
Knowledge of changing technology
very important for manufacturers…end
result is semiotic redundancy
Technology resulted in “have” cities and
“have not” cities
Tech. development will not result in
immediate transformation of social
communication…cities have always been
places for info. exchange and growth
Companies will only invest in new
technologies which are necessary
Must consider that new technologies may
take some time to be taken seriously
Post-Fordism, service sector growth,
globalization and new
telecommunications are all highly
As a whole, these factors help to
explain the multi-centered
phenomenon, based around consumer
and producer services and will be
influenced by the ever changing
cultures of cities