Rob Sampson’s ‘Disparity and Diversity in the Contemporary City’ establishes two very critical points for sociologists generally, and for scholars of the city in particular. First and foremost, it highlights the importance of individual per- ception, a form of cognitive processing, as a key determinant in social outcomes. While not entirely new, this claim is in need of serious re-consideration and further discussion in sociology today. Second and most innovatively, if not importantly, Sampson introduces a concern with perception into studies of the city and applies it to the phenomenon of segregation, both income and race-based. By so doing, he extends the role of perception and cognition beyond the domain of subjective urban experience, a sub-area of study already well-developed in the work of the urban sociologist Claude Fischer (Fischer 1992, 2004). Sampson argues provocatively that perceptions of social disorder are central to the reproduction of neighborhood composition and urban socio-spatial form.Above and beyond his fascinating findings about the race-linked interpretive biases that drive individuals to perceive greater social disorder in certain neighbourhoods than actual empirical evidence would dictate, Sampson’s research will bring the discipline of urban sociology more in line with recent innovations in brain and cognitive science that are changing the way many established fields are coming to understand individual thought and behaviour.
As anyone who has recently traveled to China, India, Brazil, or Mexico knows, the largest cities of the developing world are no longer what they used to be. Far from the picture of resource-poor, dilapidated, and under-built backwaters of poverty that has long dominated the perception of the global south, cities like Shanghai, Mumbai, Sao Paolo, and Mexico City now host gleaming skyscrapers and applications of some of the newest urban and infrastructural technologies. Conversely, many of the prosperous cities of the developed world—for example, New York and London—now exhibit accelerating social and economic polarization, giving them indices of inequality that have long been associated with the developing world. Together, these patterns suggest a convergence in land uses, built forms, and social problems in cities all over the world—ranging from upscale real estate developments and high-end global business clusters to social and economic polarization to culturally and globally hybrid work forces, all of which operate in the context of extreme urban concentration and sprawl. Many scholars have traced these newfound patterns of urban development to globalization. Globalization not only brings rapid and accelerating flows of global capital in search of new forms of investment, but also leads the shift from manufacturing to service and information economies. The question, however, is as follows: Are we really seeing a commonality of urban patterns worldwide, particularly among the major cities of the world? Or do these visual commonalities hide, or co-exist with, other less obvious differences? If the latter, what are those differences, and what challenges do they pose for international urban development planners and practitioners?
In 2002 a group of powerful businessmen interested in "rescuing" the downtown area joined forces with Mexico City's government to hire the globe-trotting international security consultant, Rudolph Giuliani. His consultant team offered a generic program of police reform built around an ostensibly successful "zero tolerance" model of policing used in New York City. This paper examines the Giuliani-inspired plansfor reducing criminality, gives a political explanation for who supported or opposed these policies and why, and explores the assumptions about space and society embodied in these stances. The overall analytical aim of the paper is twofold: 1) to assess the impact of these plans on the future of land use, public space, and the public sphere in Mexico City and 2) to link both the problems of downtown policing and criminality, and the generic solutions that have been proposed to deal with them, to globalization and its impact on downtown land use in Mexico City and Latin America more generally.
This paper focuses on the following question: what, if anything, makes contemporary world cities different from each other? Starting from some sessions of Research Committee 21 (Urban and Regional Development) of I.S.A. in Durban, the author suggests that a key-feature to distinguishing world cities is the acceleration of public insecurity and a deteriorating rule of law, as well the resultant social, spatial, and economic fragmentation these changes engender. So, planners, architects, and sociologists must be prepared to think about how to make or keep cities secure, without resorting only to “privatized” efforts to guarantee security. A possible solution is the creation of public spaces open to all classes and cultures, emphasizing social and economic integration. Moreover, policies for balanced urban employment patterns and alternative land uses are necessary to prevent social and spatial polarization of urban life, and compartmentalization of space and economy into high and low-end activities.
Diane E. Davis. 2007. “What Kind of Conflict? Cities, War, and the Failure of Urban Public Security.” In Human Security for an Urban Century: Local Challenges, Global Perspectives, edited by Maciek Hawrylak. Human Security Policy Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), in conjunction with University of British Columbia and humansecurity-cities.org.
Scholars, political leaders, and members of the business community tend to narrowly focus on globalization as an economic phenomenon. Even critics of globalization focus on the economic dimension of recent transformations of the global system. As a result, little attention has been given to the political responses to globalization. This volume attempts to fill that gap in the literature by examining how classes and other groups respond politically to economic globalization. Drawing on a range of theoretical perspectives, the articles in this volume empirically examine the political response to globalization in diverse geographic and historical contexts.The contributors to this volume analyze the interrelationships between political protest against trade liberalization in the U.S. and the repressive policies of the Bush administration, the effects of business elites on the 1998 presidential election in Venezuela, how politically excluded classes in nondemocratic settings in the global periphery used civil organizations to engage in large-scale collective action, the class struggle over urban development in downtown Mexico City, how fast track state structures created opportunities for the capitalist classes to influence the outcome of the NAFTA negotiations, how class-based accounts of intercorporate networks affect U. S. trade policy, and how the pending realization crisis and environmental destruction challenge the fundamental idea of a global consumer society.By examining the relationships between politics and globalization in these historically and geographical diverse settings and identifying the conditions within which political behavior occurs, these articles make important contributions to advancing our understanding how globalization structures and processes are politically constructed.