Cities in a World of Cities:
The comparative gesture
• 1. Urban studies: Divided and located • 2. Why compare different cities? • 3. Past and present strategies for comparison • 4. The potential of comparative methods.
Urban studies: Divided and located
Beyond the impossibilities of comparison
• Dis/locating urban modernity signals the possibility of a postcolonial account of diverse urbanisms • Beyond the incommensurabilities of western/third world/African/Asian/global cities, a product of developmentalism. • Ordinary cities, where difference is distributed as diversity rather than categorising difference
Postcolonialising urban theory
• “The movement and migration of peoples, the expansion of trade and commerce, and particularly the growth in modern times of these vast melting pots of races and cultures, the metropolitan cities, has loosened local bonds, destroyed the cultures of tribe and folk, and substituted for the local loyalties the freedom of the cities; for the sacred order of tribal custom, the rational organisation which we call civilization” (Park, 1967, p. 203).
Why compare different cities?
• Growing post-colonial critique of the locatedness of urban theory • Globalising processes reach across diverse cities, moving in many different directions • International nature of urban policy circuits
Past and present strategies for comparison
Comparative strategy/ basis for selection Can’t compare None
Plural and incommensurable
Implicit Any city Case studies not always comparative or theorybuilding
Most similar or most different Involvement in common systemic processes; often assumption of convergence as basis for comparison Most similar; explain systematic variations within broadly similar contexts on basis of variables held constant or changing Most different
Historical and specific
Search for a general rule (universal) Universal but potentially differentiated processes of incorporation into and impact of system
Either: search for universal laws across different contexts Or: Pluralist causalities (Pickvance, 1986)
- Juxtaposition with no implications: “If we set out in that vehicle, comparing cities along the way, then we must stay on board for the journey’s end of comparing theoretical explanations” (Walton, 1990, p. 255-6) - Skating on thin ice…
The potential of comparative methods.
• An exploratory phase…what can we learn from comparing cities we think of as incommensurable? • Eg clusters/agglomeration economies, social cohesion/competition, governing at a distance, participation, privatisation, informality
The uses of economic diversity
• “In cities, liveliness and variety attract more liveliness; deadness and monotony repel life. And this is a principle vital not only to the ways cities behave socially, but also to the ways they behave economically.” (Jacobs, 1965, p. 109).
Few sectors are in a position to drive Johannesburg’s vision. Finance/Business Services, Retail/Wholesale and Transport/Communications are the only sectors which measure up, on the whole, as being both attractive and competitive
Community & Social Services Construction
Financial & Business Services
Retail / Wholesale
6 For detail on manufacturin g see next slide 4
Transport & Communication
Electricity, Gas & Water
Agriculture & Forestry
= 50,000 employees
Public Administration Accommodation/ Catering Mining & Quarrying
Note: Weighting of Attractiveness Criteria: 35% GGP Growth (1990-1999), 35% Employment Growth (1996-1999), 20% Contribution to GGP/Employment, 10% Multiplier Effect Weighting of Competitiveness Criteria: 50% Export Propensity, 50% Productivity Growth/Index *The Johannesburg territory herewith defined as comprising of all economic activity in the Johannesburg, Randburg and Roodepoort magisterial districts. Source: IDC Sectoral Prospects 1998, National Productivity Institute, Econometrix, WEFA and Monitor Analysis
• “Municipalities should concentrate on their traditional roles of providing infrastructure, ensuring health and education, and appropriate planning and regulation. Despite the hype about city marketing and mega projects, traditional service delivery may be more critical. For policy makers this means concentrating on not destroying employment opportunities as well as undertaking traditional functions as efficiently and equitably as possible. The poor benefit disproportionately from the efficient and inclusive delivery of services” (Amis, 2002, p. 109)
Table 6.1 Local government revenue and capital expenditure p.a. by region Source: UNCHS, 2000 (1993 data)
Region Africa Arab States
Revenue per person $15 $1,682
Capital person $10 $32
Industrialized Latin American Countries Transitional All cities
$2,763 $252 $237 $649
$1,133 $100 $77 $245
Durban and Haringey
For example, taking the city of Durban, South Africa, with a 3 million population and one of the strongest fiscal bases of cities in the region, and comparing it with the council of Haringey, approx. 220,000 population, one of the poorer boroughs of London, the total annual council budgets in the year 2003/4 amounted to approximately £900m (R9.7b) and £844.4m respectively. Of this 55% of Haringey’s budget cme from the national government, and £334.7m was spent on services and education which in South Africa would be provided at national or provincial government level. Durban received just less than £50million from national government programmes for housing and infrastructure development, and was able to devote a total of £178m (R1.954bn, or £59pp) to capital projects including economic growth and infrastructure provision, this incorporating the state subsidies. Haringey’s average expenditure per person, excluding education and social services, was more than eight times that of Durban’s (£2333 as opposed to £279); the backlogs for basic nfrastructure provision and service delivery in Durban (averaging 25% of the population) which, together with the fact that local councils in the UK are not responsible for water, sewerage or energy provision (which are all the responsibility of South African local authorities and require extensive capital investment), make this gap far more significant (Ethekwini Municipality, 2004; Haringey Council, 2004).
• Liberating from some formal expectations based on assumptions of scientific rigour, or moving these to an appropriate scale • Eg what are the relevant variables to keep constant? National political culture? National or city GDP? Or presence or not of participation, elections, external advice, type of growth strategy etc
• Beyond comparing places? • Proliferate the connections between places which we attend to • Circulations, repetitions, imaginations • Cities already inhabit one another – are they intrinsically machines of comparison…?
• • • • Ethics of comparative research Geopolitics of knowledge production The planetary view… Paradigmatic cities: Theoretical elitism/reverse elitism