Transnationalism and Urban Networks: An Introduction
The expansion of transnational studies greatly enhanced history and social science’s ability to grasp the complexities and interdependence of the world’s metropolises. The transnational flows of capital, goods, ideas, and labor - representing only a handful of numerous other examples - have always existed. However their scope, speed and scale have been enhanced. Economically, transnational capital movements through “Global Cities” unhinge such cosmopolitan centers form their national and regional connections. In developing nations, emerging cities illustrate spatializations reminiscent of America’s nineteenth century metropolises. Slums in Rio, Mumbai, and Lagos represent such spatializations, where a transnational, national, or local elite occupies central areas in which housing and security abound, while its middle and lower classes struggle through varying levels of slum existence. Polarization within the workforce plagues rich and developing nations alike as transnational producer services and banking/insurance industries contribute to a developing white collar workforce, whose own consumer needs employ low level wage labor with a declining middle class serving as an increasingly thin buffer.
This economic polarization expresses itself spatially as many urban areas feature communities segregated by income and race, while also finding expression in the built environment of cities reflecting social, economic, and political processes unfolding within these municipalities. Nor is such polarization confined to the city limits. Rather, suburban and metropolitan areas illustrate a similar dynamic, as the expansion of homeownership ideologies and concurrent discourses that conflate free markets with freedom have resulted in several Western and East Asian societies privileging property-based citizenship over more civic oriented ideals.
The reorientation of history and social sciences with greater attention to transnational frameworks has been recounted numerous times, but essentially the deregulation of international and national markets throughout the 1980s and 1990s and the institutionalization of globalization through agreements like NAFTA forced many to address growing multinational connections that seemed more relevant or visible than in previous decades. Additionally, many works in the transnational field have adopted or employed theoretical frameworks that previous diplomatic historians largely ignored. The world’s expanding urbanization and increased transnational flows of peoples, goods, capital, and ideas have necessitated the conception of new urban networks socially, politically, and economically. Additionally, the application of cultural studies further broadened historical and social scientific studies. The interconnectedness of these approaches enabled scholars to push against back ideas of national exceptionalism, acknowledging that nations and peoples have developed in greater relation to each other than previously thought.
I. Global Networks, Capital Flows and Cities
Though not necessarily beginning in the 1980s, but certainly central to academic inquiry and subsequently popular discourse, tropes regarding globalization emerged in relation to the world’s urban areas. Robert Cohen’s “The New International Division of Labor, Multinational Corporations and Urban Hierarchy” (1981) and John Friedmann and Goetz Wolff’s “World City Formation: Agenda for Research and Action” (1982) serve as two examples of this development. While Cohen explored the new hierarchy of urban areas based on their areas of service/industrial specialization, Friedmann and Goetz applied Cohen’s NIDL to world cities which they argued represented “a new breed of global command and control centers within the new international division of labor.” Contemporary and future urban scholars such as Saskia Sassen, Peter Marcuse, and Ronald Van Kempen among many others explored the spatial, economic, and social ramifications of these developments.
Following the impact of his 1982 collaboration with Goetz, Friedmann’s 1986 article “The World City Hypothesis” built upon earlier works by Saskia Sassen, David Harvey, and Manuel Castells. Friedman’s “world city” hypothesis gained momentum throughout the 1980s as some authors built upon or modified his conclusion’s while others viewed the world city system more skeptically as a tool used by municipalities and corporate interests to employ development policies that favored multinational and local business interests. “The World City Hypothesis” emerged as one the earlier works to connect cities to the world economy, especially in regard to the resulting spatial aspects. Moreover, Friedmann’s article never implied any hard and fast conclusions but served as a starting point for further debate.
Friedmann credits David Harvey and Manuel Castells with revolutionizing how scholars thought about urbanization. “Their special achievement was to link city forming processes to the larger historical movement of industrial capitalism … City no longer viewed as organic but rather a product of specifically social forces set in motion by capitalist relations of production. Class conflict became central to the new view of how cities evolved.” The connection between Friedmann’s work and Sassen’s appears even more stark. Not only does Friedmann reference Sassen’s work on several occasions, but Sassen’s subsequent research built upon many of his main arguments.
Seven basic assertions form the locus of Friedmann’s world city hypothesis. First, structural changes in cities will find themselves related to “the form and extent of the city’s integration with the world economy.” Within this factor, Friedmann notes the influence of “endogenous conditions” such as national policy toward immigration, policies such as South Africa’s Apartheid, and referencing Anthony King, “the spatial patterns of historical accumulation”. Here, as among others Peter Marcuse and Ronald van Kempen (Of States and Cities and Globalizing Cities) suggest, the historical background of cities impact subsequent developments. Second, certain cities function in part as tools of “global capital”, operating as “’basing points’ in the spatial organization and articulation of production and markets.” Linkages created by such conditions arrange cities into a “complex spatial hierarchy.” Third, the functions of “world cities” manifest themselves in the “structure and dynamics of their production sectors and employment”. Fundamentally, Friedmann suggests that the concentration of corporate headquarters, international finance, global transport/communications, and high level business services contribute to economic growth for both upper level workers and low wage laborers but also operate ideologically, as metropolises like New York, Los Angeles and Paris “are centers for the production and dissemination of information, news, entertainment and other cultural artifacts.” Additionally, as such areas draw increasing immigration, the informal economy expands since its formal counterpart cannot absorb them. This point relates another aspect of world cities: their role as a point of destination for migrants and immigrants.
Friedmann’s final three hypotheses focus more directly on transnational economic flows and their subsequent effects on urban populations and spatialization. First, global cities provide a location for the “concentration and accumulation of international capital.” While some nations and cities drew benefits from this development, others developed increasing amounts of international debt, which ultimately damaged their positions. Second, for all their economic growth, world cities illustrate the contradictions of industrial capitalism, the most notable being “spatial and class polarization”. The demise of unionized employment and its replacement with non-unionized personal/consumer services (domestics, boutiques, restaurants, entertainment) and low wage manufacturing (electronics, garments, prepared foods) further polarizes income and space as these burgeoning areas are juxtaposed with financial/business services. Under such pressures, middle-income earners appear to be a shrinking demographic. Finally, the costs of world city status often outweighs the “fiscal capacity of the state” which results in continuing “fiscal and social crisis” that bedevil municipal governments. The economic infrastructure desired by transnational capital and social reproduction supported by elites serve as dominant forces in state policy/actions. Thus, “the burden of capitalist accumulation is systematically shifted to the politically weakest, most disorganized sectors of the population.” Police repression in the name of both corporate and state interests further marginalize poorer residents.
Friedmann’s two articles exuded a strong influence but several other scholars also contributed vital insights. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Saskia Sassen published two works that led to widespread debate and discussion among academics. The first, The Mobility of Labor and Capital: A Study in International Investment and Labor Flow, focuses on the impact of transnational space on capital and labor. The second, The Global City, postulates that the transnational/international economies of globalization required urban nodes with dense infrastructures of telecommunications, specialization, and producer services (accounting, engineering, IT, business law and the like) to control and manage the dizzying array of financial products, instruments, and capital mobility. The two works illustrate a continuity of themes and focus, including the effects of foreign direct investment (FDI) on local economies and its role in the subsequent internationalization of production, the creation of both high level specialized producer services and low level wage employment (often in consumer services or in support of producer services and their workers), and the growth of “high tech” cities.
First, changes in FDI shifted the destination of such investments. If Latin America’s share declined, America’s rose to a great degree due to Japan’s capital infusion (Southeast Asia also experienced increases as well). With FDI comes an increased transnationalization of production. Export Processing Zones (EPZs) facilitate the movement of labor into various global regions (the U.S./Mexico border serves as one obvious example) but of equal importance are the multinational, diplomatic, and military linkages established by creation of such institutions; these linkages facilitate immigration. Here, Sassen pushes back against the traditional narrative that suggests poverty spurs such labor movements. Instead, Sassen argues that though poverty serves as one push factor, these linkages provide another. Culturally dominant, they establish labor flows to the nations from which they originate. Sassen points to examples such as South Korea where immigration to the US expanded significantly despite the nation’s own economic success. “Isolated” nations or those lacking the linkages Sassen points out illustrate lower rates of immigration. This helps to explain in part, “the contradiction between the existence of labor shortages and the existence of large unemployment worldwide … “ Additionally, Sassen notes the markedly gendered nature of these immigration/labor flows, as newer countries such as China, South Korea, Colombia, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic feature heavily female flows while “traditional immigration countries such as Italy, Portugal and Greece have mostly males.” While such divisions are relevant, Sassen notes a key aspect of this “new” immigration, “is the increase in the supply of female immigrant workers”. Providing a more quantitative sociological approach than Ananya Roy’s City Requiem, Sassen points to the very feminization of poverty and wage labor others like Roy or Nicolas De Genova have explored from more cultural anthropological perspectives. Sassen acknowledges similar developments connecting them more broadly.
Third, Sassen suggests immigration’s affect on wages may be less severe than some argue. Though she addresses this argument in greater detail in The Global City, Sassen suggests immigrants do not drive down wages or cause the casualization of labor but rather find themselves situated well to take advantage of such opportunities which arise out of structural changes. Similarly, such developments result in the increasing employment of immigrant labor in service industries.
Fourth, one easily identifies the seeds for Sassen’s later work Global City. Previewing many of her insights, Sassen notes that cities such as New York and Los Angeles feature the dual growth of labor intensive small scale industries along with an increasingly large consumer services market. Again, Sassen pushes back against many of the traditional beliefs regarding urban economies. In this context, immigration provides some relief to such sectors offering “a solution to the cheap labor question”, thus allowing struggling industries to remain competitive. Sassen’s new economy creates jobs at the producer service level but also at the low wage end of the spectrum. Middle income employment declines resulting in “the increasing polarization of the occupational and income distribution in the labor force.” However, Sassen cautions scholars to consider carefully the meaning of this expansion of low wage employment, “the available evidence for New York City shows that a majority of immigrants find employment in rather low wage jobs. The mistake lies in assuming that low wage jobs are predominantly a function of decline and backwardness.” The decentralization of office work, mechanical decentralization, and the international flow of producer and some consumerist services have contributed to the increasing importance of global nodes such as New York.
Following The Mobility of Labor and Capital, The Global City: New York, London, and Tokyo sparked debates across disciplines and fields. Sassen argues that the forces of technological/telecommunication innovation, globalization, and the decline of Fordism combined to deepen dependencies on “global cities” such as New York and Tokyo. The dispersal and decentralization that the telecommunications boom was to usher in actually contributed to a centralization process for finance in several global nodes organizing increasingly decentralized production sites. Producer services came to dominate urban economies while their employees gentrified various communities across each metropolitan area. However, with this growth came polarization.
The Global City embraces four primary themes. First, “territorial decentralization of economic activity” failed to distribute business and profits more broadly. Rather, global cities find themselves increasingly serving as powerful international financial centers. Second, Sassen places great importance on how these economies order cities internally. Here Sassen shifts to a focus on markets and the financial industry. Sassen does not discount the importance of corporations or banks but notes the striking shift toward financial investments altered various social, political, and spatial structures. Third, questions regarding the effect of global cities on the various national networks in which they situate themselves.
Others scholars such as Peter Marcuse and Ronald Van Kempen (Globalizing Cities: A New Spatial Order?) have suggested that fundamentally cities’ spatial order remains continuous in many respects. Sassen’s emphasis on economic changes argues that though this growth remains connected to a declining manufacturing base, it has altered the spatial dynamics of global cities. Though as with other scholars, Sassen designates the early 1970s as the shift away from Fordism towards a new economic reality, she also notes the importance of the 1982 debt crisis which brought numerous changes to the industry while increasing the “concentration in and orientation toward major financial centers…" According to Sassen, a key to this transformation rests on the proliferation of and investment in financial instruments which have maximized the movement of capital, increasing the activity of “investors and borrower around the world”. During the 1980s, markets seemed to have wielded a rhetorical and economic strength not previously accorded. In relation, this has meant that financial centers have become the key location for “intermediation functions” Thus, what she labels as the “organizational complexity” of internationalized finance can only be supplied by the dense “social connectivity” of urban networks, and the accumulation of firms and markets preset in urban “financial centers” like New York.
As noted, though The Global City focuses extensively on markets, financial instruments, transnational credit flow and the like, it also attempts to examine the spatial consequences of these developments, “Different types of economic growth promote different types of social forms.” If post-WWII Fordism generated a large middle class through industrial employment that encouraged consumption, which in turn fed the economic growth of the period, modern economic value lay in the creation and control over scientific knowledge, meaning that the beneficiaries of this new paradigm resemble not the expansive post war middle class of the 1950s, but the technocratic college educated professional. Women especially have benefited from new developments, ironically, gentrifying communities in each city as job opportunities previously denied or non-existent surfaced to enable their influence to be felt economically and socially. Women have replaced the suburban middle class lifestyle with a more urbane ideal. Likewise, Sassen points out, more so in New York and London than Tokyo, that immigration has produced a sort of low cost gentrification as older decaying neighborhoods have been inhabited and refurbished by England’s and America’s newcomers. Yet, for such positives Sassen also notes the negative polarization that has led to a “dual city” or what others some might call “layered”. For Sassen, gentrification is not a new process but the scale under which it unfolds is. Gentrification’s manifestations differ in each of the three cities: New York’s bears witness to the rise of an “informal market” for both labor and goods, Japan’s unmoored rural workers such that a system that once offered some protection offers less creating a mobile but impoverished workforce, and London’s government privatized numerous services once supplied by the municipality itself.
In 2000, Richard Child Hill and June Woo Kim offered a corrective to Sassen’s global city examples. In “Global Cities and Developmental Sates: New York, Tokyo, and Seoul”, Hill and Kim argue that Sassen incorrectly couched cities such as Seoul and Tokyo with New York and Los Angeles. While the latter feature free market deregulatory federal and municipal governments, Tokyo and Seoul’s governments intervene to a far greater extend in labor, economic, and housing markets. Moreover, Seoul and Tokyo governments find themselves under the influence of bureaucratic and national elites rather than the transnational variant. As well each serves as a center for “indigenous not foreign companies, and their international infrastructure is primarily rooted in state ministries and bureaus, not in private finance and producer service firms.” Other significant differences exist, but Hill and Kim emphasize the point that much of world systems theory and global city conceptualization argues for a diminished, less relevant state. Tokyo and Seoul challenge this viewpoint suggesting “the economic base, spatial organization and social structure of the world’s major cities are strongly influenced by the national development model and regional context in which each city is embedded.”
II. Cities, States and Spatialization
Though Sassen, Friedmen, Hill, and Kim all address aspects of spatialization, they do so as a secondary goal in illustrating world system functions. Additionally, with the notable exception of Hill and Kim, Friedman and Sassen downplay the presence of state actors. Instead, Peter Marcuse, Ronald Van Kempen and several others have explored the recent spatial history and processes of cities along with the role of the nation state. As mentioned, over the past several decades urbanization in the developing nations increased exponentially. Scholars have provided numerous explanations for this growth. Cities and Development in the Third World attends to one aspect of Third World urbanization and development, and as such places the nation-state at the forefront of discussion. Though certainly not theoretical in the sense of Michael Foucault or Antonio Gramsci, editors Robert B. Potter and Ademola T. Salau seek to reorient the study of cities in developing nations, encouraging historians and others to consider the importance of informal economies, reject Western imposed ideas/modes of development, place greater faith in indigenous solutions, and acknowledge the role of national and local states in Third world development.
Published in 1990, Cities and Development reflects the influence of contemporary events and shifts in the profession. Several themes that emerged prominently by the mid 1990s among many historians are in evidence here. Potter’s contribution “Cities, Convergence, Divergence and Third World Development” encourages scholars to “avoid false schisms” like the urban/rural dichotomy. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, urban historians sought to do just this. Ananya Roy’s City Requiem, Calcutta: Gender and the Politics of Poverty serves as only one recent example, as Roy explored squatter settlements and migration’s spatial and political relations. Additionally, H.A.C. Main’s “Housing Problems and Squatting Solutions in Metropolitan Kano” provides an African example of one of Roy’s central points, that squatter settlements provide governments with political constituencies and mobilization while also supplying labor to the local economy. However, Roy’s work differs from Potter and Salau’s collection in that Cities and Development, with the possible exception of Potter’s second contribution, “Shelter in Urban Barbados, West indies: Vernacular Architecture, Land Tenure and Self Help”, focuses strictly on economic, demographic, and political developments. Cultural aspects or gender considerations receive virtually no attention.
Still, in other ways, Potter and Salau’s work reinforces other developments among transnational writers. For example, as David Harvey and Arjun Appadurai (whom at least one writer cites here) have cautioned that writers, developers, and others must resist imposing Western oriented answers. From a broader viewpoint, Cities and Development’s authors illustrate the pervasive urban bias that development plans emphasize. The crisis of rural economies has not been the focus of most government efforts. Moreover, as Roy and several articles in Globalizing Cities note, the colonial histories of various Third World cities remain deeply influenced by their former occupiers. K. Sita and M. Chatterjee utilize this framework to examine “metropolitan dominance in India” while David Drakakis Smith points out the negative economic and health influences colonialism had on “urban food distribution systems.”
The importance of the informal economy serves as another theme. Potter observes that the sheer size and growth of the informal market as an alternative to over extended states requires historians to reevaluate the role of such markets in the developing world. Potter’s quote points to the very economic developments that Roy emphasizes have contributed to the “feminization of livelihood.”
Finally, transnational historians might take Potter and Salua to task. Though the work covers a wide geographic range, much of it remains nation state bound. Some of the articles maintain an interiority in their analysis. Multinationals, and international economic organizations such as the IMF receive scant attention. Additionally, as already noted, cultural aspects or gender considerations remain absent.
Globalizing Cities: A New Spatial Order? explores how several broad categories (race/racism, globalization, migration, new demographics, changing role of public sector, changing and patterns of choice) have affected the formation of six basic “spatial divisions”: citadels, gentrified neighborhoods, suburbs, working class areas, ethnic enclaves, and exclusionary ghettos. Contributors studied cities from around the world including Singapore, Tokyo, Calcutta, New York, Brussels, Frankfurt, and Rio Di Janeiro. As a sum of its parts, the work embraces a transnational comparative approach.
Marcuse and Van Kempen put forth a general hypothesis regarding the development of urban metropolises since the 1970s. Acknowledging that cities have always illustrated divisions along cultural, functional and economic lines, the current pattern “is a new and in many ways deeper going combination of these divisions”. No uniform model exists such that each city manifests these changes differently but in general the new spatial order’s basic features “included a spatial concentration within cities of a new urban poverty on the one hand, and of specialized 'high level' internationally connected business activities on the other, with increasing spatial divisions not only between each of them, but also among segments of the 'middle class' in between.” Social and physical boundaries providing the separation have proliferated and hardened. Though many of these developments are market driven the state plays a significant and key role. If it can create these conditions, it can also erase them.
The contributors provide numerous key insights into global urban development. First, significant differences exist between Third World urban development and that of the U.S. and Western Europe. Racial spatialization in the form of “ghettoes of exclusion” have been thought to be a U.S. phenomena but Western Europe’s infusion of immigrants, retreat of state welfare, and structural economic changes point to a similar future. In contrast, Third World cities exhibit a very different spatialization. For example, Sanjoy Chakravorty’s essay on Calcutta revealed that though ghettoes exist, they “are not large … and this spatial pattern is not confined to the poor …” Moreover, the historical contingency of post-colonialism re-oriented the organization of the city unlike its Western counterparts. Divisions rest more on class than race.
Second, the conceptualization of the city as an organic whole entity fails to impress the editors. Rather they argue the cities remain layered entities that remain spatially and temporally divided. Residents of different classes, races, and ethnicities may use the same spaces but not at the same time and not for the same purposes. Marcuse and van Kempen use the layered city metaphor noting that each space has residential layer, a work layer, a transportation layer and so on. This reality requires greater attention to the conceptualization of urban environments.
Marcuse and van Kempen encourage the state to become more intimately involved. The example of Singapore illustrates that state intervention can alter isolating spatializations (and seems to support Hill and Kim’s conclusions regarding the importance of the state in spatial and economic structures). Of course, the editors caution the development of negative ghettoization, in which the state forces residents “to live where they do not wish [in some cases] away from those with whom they would like to be near.” The weaknesses of Globalizing Cities' approach lay in the fact that 1) spatialization occurs as result of many factors that are not spatial and 2) the numerous contingencies between examples in a comparative approach complicates generalizations.
Building on their 2000 work, Marcuse and van Kempen challenged transnational discourses that devalued government power. In contrast to narratives that diminish the nation-state, Marcuse and van Kempen reassert the role of the state in urban spatial developments. Moreover, Of States and Cities stresses the multiplicity of interests and government powers to illustrate that a monolithic view of government proves myopic. Here they return to expand on their previous conceptions of city’s partitions, “attempting to define in orderly fashion such terms as ‘ghetto’, ‘enclave’, ‘citadel’ …” For Marcuse, van Kempen, and many of the work’s other contributors “the state has been a dominant force in creating and enforcing partitions” but economic forces have provided a parallel influence.
Throughout history, cities have displayed levels of partitioning, but the forces behind such divisions do not remain static. If class, ethnicity or race, serve as foundations for urban partitions in the modern city, its historical antecedents often divided early burgeoning metropolises along culture, status, and function. However, the conflict between function and status haunts cities for centuries. Marcuse points out that functional and cultural differences “are in general voluntary, divisions by status are not.” Thus, “state partitioning” of communities especially along cultural, class, or racial lines threatens democratic developments. Of note, Marcuse acknowledges that while “racial segregation was an accompaniment of citadel formation” the two were not identical as status in colonial cities grew out of both economic and political significance. Moreover, spatially these ghettoes lacked the exclusionary aspect of Fordist and Post-Fordist cities, “ghettos in colonial cities were economically integrated with the societies in which they existed.” The rise of capitalism altered spatialization patterns as markets became the main arbiter. The role of the state in spatialization changed with these developments. Government and quasi government powers effectively reinforced these spatialized divisions. Post Fordist cities increasingly removed manufacturing and industry from the city center, moving them to the periphery. The growth of edge cities, suburbs and the like grew in relation. Additionally, one can also designate similar growth in citadels and exclusionary ghettoes. Finally, socialist cities emerged with a spatialization that in theory avoided segregation by class and race but in practice failed to achieve such ends. In fact, the decline of the Fordist economies along with the demise of the USSR resulted in post-communist cities undergoing even more intense polarization.
Of States and Cities includes essays (besides those mentioned above) on Sao Paulo, Istanbul, Britain, Holland, and the role of place in social and advance marginality. Though each offers unique perspectives on their various topics, a few generalizations might be made. For example, the retreat of many governments from the welfare state has meant that in nations such as Holland where class and ethnic diversity in various communities was not uncommon, more market based approaches have shifted municipal funding from social housing (rentals) to ownership, resulting in greater class/ethnic polarization. Each has displaced segments of the population. Likewise, formerly communist cities like Budapest and those in Poland display similar stratifications as former anti-communists benefited from the collapse of communism but new spatial patterns have reduced egalitarianism, creating metropolises that while imperfect under socialism, emerge as increasingly polarized by class and ethnicity today.
Not all cities are global, and many remain subject to state pressures. The spatialized effects of 1950s and 60s central planning in England and the Non-Plan movement that responded to it serve as the focus of Non-Plan: Essays on Freedom, Participation and Change in Modern Architecture. In his contribution to this collection of essays, Chinedu Umenyilora explores the promise and feasibility of “self-build” – the policy allowing people in developing countries to construct their own homes — closing with a remark that encapsulates much of Non-Plan’s approach: “There is uncertainty as to whether one can effectively design good communities, but we can assist and enable communities to design themselves.” Umenyilora underscores much of the Non-Plan movement’s intentions while acknowledging its faults.
Emerging in the mid-late 1960s through the journal New Society (“a weekly magazine of social inquiry” established in 1962), writers such as Peter Hall, Paul Barker, Reyner Banham, Cedric Price among others put forth an iconic issue known as Non-Plan. Provoking outrage and indignation among urban planners and architects, Non-Plan dismissed centralized urban planning as beset with damaging consequences. What the field claimed to be innovations were really repacked plans from earlier decades and centuries, “The point is to realize how little planning and the accompanying architecture have changed. The whole ethos is doctrinaire; and if something good emerges it is a bit of a bonus.” Instead, the writers advocated a free wheeling development dictated by local communities rejecting the values or intentions of planners: “physical planners have no right to set their value judgment up against yours, or indeed anyone else’s. If the Non Plan experiment works really well, people should be allowed to build what they like. Agency for communities and individuals from the state emerged as one the movement’s central tenets, establishing what Peter Hall called participatory architecture. Non-Plan allowed for freedom but offset such liberties with a cost, paid for by those benefiting from such developments. Reacting to centralized urban planning, Non-Plan practitioners demanded greater community involvement encouraging the architectural profession to change its ways, becoming as much facilitators as designers. Social engineering through architecture and planning emerged as anathema to Non-Planners who refuted such efforts arguing “architectural schemes associated with Modernism, and which were designed to resolve social problems exacerbated them.”
Of course, as several contributors to this collection of essays notes, Non-Plan, though perceived as a fundamentally centre-left enterprise at the time, has been appropriated by conservative forces pressing market-based deregulated development and the like. Though critical of the urban planning and architectural professions, Non-Plan failed to consider the strength of capitalist economies to dictate development and building standards. Ben Franks addresses this subject in his essay “New Right/New Left,” arguing that the late development of a formal New Right movement allowed many future conservatives to remain tied to a broad New Left that was beginning to fragment. The rise of squatting illustrated the more conservative elements of the Non-Plan approach: “Social divisions and hierarchies were rejected by the squatters but not by the planners (who wanted to save their professional role) or the Non-Planners (who wanted to keep the division between those who build and the consumer who will use the building). The division of labour and primacy of the individual as consumer was also maintained by Hayek.” Other contributors such as Clara Greed suggest, even Non-Plan reified binaries such as man/women and plan and non-plan, clouding alternative approaches with false frameworks or ways of thinking about planning. Simon Sandler acknowledges the nominal impact Non-Plan has had on construction practices but does note its influence on more avant-garde planning and architectural approaches. Ultimately, Sadler applauds Non-Planner efforts to undermine fixity and monumentalism, but he laments its inability to transcend the academic: “the relationship between architecture and event became in turn reified. Non-planning’s ambition to create ‘event spaces’ and new types of living was sincere, but its legacy was very largely one of tremendous images, representations and simulations of architecture as a process.” In fact, Sadler labels Non-plan an extreme expression of “modernism’s ‘openness’” as it placed overwhelming faith in “a slightly fantastical imagining of contemporary society as one of the exponential economic growth, liberalization, and technical innovation … “ while attempting “to make architecture seem relevant by subjecting it to the vicissitudes of the moment rather than the solid ground of Gestalt …. “
Johnathan Hughes comes to similar conclusions in his evaluation of architectural practices and concerns following Non-Plan’s emergence. Though acknowledging increased attention by architects to alternative solutions and to promoting agency for the public, the responses to Non-Plan were often “contradictory and occasionally ineffectual …” Critical of the urbanism built on automobility promoted by Banham (Los Angeles: The Architecture of the Four Ecologies) and the authors of Learning from Las Vegas: The Forgotten Symbolism of the Architectural Form , Hughes argues “it was urbanism for those with mobility and the resources to consume.” Hughes points out that Non-Plan’s “leave cities alone” approach found allies in the Thatcher government who put “laissez faire ‘enterprise zones’” into practice. Of which Hughes documents the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) which from 1980 on resulted in testimony to the failures of free market non-planning efficiency as the area resembles an ugly melding of architectural styles built on short term self interest. Moreover, in an American context this idea of “hands off urban areas” meshed well with shrinking federal aid to American metropolitan regions.
Non- Plan: Essays on Freedom Participation and Change in Modern Architecture and Urbanism re-evaluates the controversial Non-Plan movement of the 1960s. Though the movement’s intentions lay in promoting agency, freedom, and a participatory architecture in the face of an overbearing state backed urban planning system, its libertarian impulses found themselves appropriated by conservative forces. Its impact on more experimental forms, representations, and simulations remained more prominent than its tangible results in construction, though it at least helped to encourage developers and planners to consider alternative approaches and to listen more attentively, even if not devolving much power to the public. Non-Plans critics suggest, its largest failures as movement reside in its naïve optimism regarding economic expansion, faith in technocratic leadership, and unconscious acceptance of capitalist market based norms. As the opening quote suggests, Non-Plan placed faith in the individual and the community to plan their own development but its own libertarian approach encouraged capital flow dominance and conservative appropriation, which may or may not have served the very interest Non-Plan hoped to promote.
III. Migration and Urban Networks
Though transnational capital and global systems theory help understand complex economic factors, they often fail to explore the specificity of spatialization and its political, economic, and social consequences. Granted, the aforementioned works by Marcuse and van Kempen investigate developing urban spatializations, but they stop short of a cultural analysis. Few of the previously discussed scholars, examine the effects of race, class, gender, and their intersections at the ground level. Instead, other disciplines have served to fill this breach most notably in this section, anthropologists Ananya Roy and Nicolas De Genova and urban planner/architect Ney dos Santos Oliveira.
Ney dos Santos Oliveira, a professor of Architecture and Planning utilized a transnational comparative framework in 1996 article ““Race and Class in Rio de Janeiro and New York City” in order to examine the relationship between race and class in the establishment and proliferation of Brazilian favelas and American ghettos. “Political empowerment” of residents serves as a special point of focus for Oliveira. Like Ananya Roy’s recent work on squatters and commuter women, Oliveira hopes to excavate the potential and reality of political mobilization for both spatial communities (favelas and ghettos). Perhaps surprisingly, Oliveira concludes that despite diminished funding (in comparison with their American counterparts), Rio’s favelas organize more effectively, remain independent from state co-option which enables broader progressive movements. Moreover, favelas focus on class identity facilitates broader alliances but also allow for the maintenance of a racial identity for participants.
Brazil’s history of urban spatialization differs sharply from the United States. Slavery, more widespread throughout the country rather than confined to a region as in the US, meant that racial spatial patterns following Brazil’s gradual emancipation lacked the polarized racial demographics of the U.S. Additionally, favelas have long illustrated a more diverse racial and class integration than American ghettos. From the 1930s through the 1970s, both the U.S. and Brazil engaged in urban development plans that resulted in similar failures as far less affordable housing was constructed than expected. With new external factors such as globalization, Oliveira wants to know ““if social mobilization is strongly and decisively dependent on spatial concentration.” In moments, Oliveira echoes ideas put forth by Saskia Sassen in The Mobility of Capital and Labor. Oliveira suggests that the concentration of class based identities in favelas provides them a special political power, much like the proportionally small but dense immigrant communities of Sassen’s work that enable such populations to wield political power despite their smaller numbers . Moreover, globalization contributes to an economic polarization that further divides Rio and New York. This new relationship between capital and labor require scholars to reevaluate the “categories of race and class”. If many American communities such as those featuring former public housing in Chicago have begun the long process of gentrification, so too have favelas endured this process as middle class Brazilians move into many, pushed further out by rising land prices.
Though Oliveira concludes that community favela movements’ effectiveness exceeds similar efforts by their American counterparts , both too often organize around service delivery for political mobilization. Ultimately, both movements need more “comprehensive political agendas” exceeding race and class while defining their goals “on the basis of critical emancipatory particiapation.”
The movement of peoples often leads to discourses that totalize or reduce identities. For example, when discussing “Hispanics” or Latinos, such designations lump together numerous and diverse nationalities that frequently differ politically and socially. Chicago’s Mexican and Puerto Rican communities provide a useful window into these differences in Nicolas De Genova and Ana Y. Ramos-Zayas’ Latino Crossings: Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and the Politics of Race and Citizenship. Utilizing a collaborative enthnography based on a comparative analytic in which the two anthropologists pooled their field work on the respective Chicago Mexican and Puerto Rican communities, Latino Crossings explores the complex process of identity formation and the difficulties in maintaining Pan-Latino identities. Spatial concerns, most notably each community’s need to stake out there own “neighborhood” in Chicago, provide a source of inquiry. Focusing on the Humbolt Park (Puerto Rican) and Pilsen (Mexican, Mexican American), De Genova and Ramos-Zayas conduct exhaustive ethnographic studies analyzing interviews for discourse and opinions on gender, inter-ethnic relations (most prominently Puerto Rican - Mexican), and race.
Latino Crossings employs a citizenship lens to examine how such issues affect inter-ethnic perceptions and representations. For example, the citizenship status of Puerto Ricans enables some to claim welfare benefits and other state services which numerous Mexicans cannot access because of their lack of citizenship status. However, some in the Mexican community use this example of access to criticize Puerto Ricans as cultureless, lazy, and unproductive. Conversely, some Puerto Ricans accuse Mexicans of sacrificing their self-respect for low paying wage labor in degrading work conditions. Language often thought of as a unifying principle here illustrates how it might also be used to divide. Spanish and English language prowess or lack thereof, among Mexicans and Puerto Ricans is used by each community to critique the social status of the other, pointing to the interethnic tensions at play. The work also explores the complex perceptions of and prejudices toward African Americans that some Puerto Ricans and Mexicans share.
When De Genova and Ramos-Zayos place both communities in a national perspective, they argue that neither translates well to a broader white culture, mitigating attempts at coalitions and alliances. If citizenship gives access to Puerto Ricans toward a declining welfare state that no longer provides an adequate safety net then non-citizenship denies Mexicans legal identities subjecting them to informal labor markets. Both authors followed this work with books on their respective community.
De Genova’s Working the Boundaries built on many aspects of his collaboration with Ramos-Zayos but expanded his research to the transnational level (Latino Crossings exhibited transnational awareness but focused more on each group’s experiences in Chicago) connecting rural Mexico to Chicago to American national immigration policy. Like many other transnational scholars, De Genova wants to disrupt the idea of the nation-state arguing that the border remains a fictive construct. Applying an interdisciplinary approach that employs the work of Henri Lefebvre, Paulo Freire, Marxsm, whiteness studies, post-colonial research, and feminist scholars, De Genova tackles several large issues. As with Latino Crossings, De Genova’s field work consisted of interviews and interactions with students he encountered as an ESL teacher for several Chicago area factories. Working the Boundaries clearly displays De Genova’s central role in the narrative. The class content of his ESL course often developed out the interplay between himself, his student’s interest, and management’s own agenda. In this way, De Genova offers a critique of such programs and their ultimate intentions. Class relations also serve as a point of focus for De Genova. Racial-class perceptions between Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Blacks, and poor whites also come into focus. He uses interactions with workers through the language classes to examine such issues but also uncovers ideas of relational identity as many articulate raciality that claims neither blackness or whiteness, while at the same time sometimes maintains a privileged sense of whiteness based on a pronounced anti-black racism.
Critically, De Genova also discusses the construction of “illegality” to criminalize Mexican and Mexican American populations. Though not directly related, De Genova seems to echo David Guitierrez’s landmark work Walls and Mirrors. De Genova notes that this legal production of illegality end up affecting undocumented and documented Mexican nationals and Mexican Americans. Market forces and industrial employers then harness this illegality to manipulate labor pools.
If De Genova explores the use of space and illegality to control labor flows in Mexican Chicago, others have taken his transnational approach and applied it elsewhere. Over the past 30 years, numerous forces have conspired to drive millions of people to cities across the developing world. The increased migration of peoples to Third World cities has resulted in the creation of slums, shanty towns, and squatter settlements. However, debate over the reasons for and the meaning of such developments emerged in the 1960s and 70s but seem particularly relevant today. With this in mind, Ananya Roy’s City Requiem Calcutta : Gender and the Politics of Poverty explores the gendered subjectivities of “distress migration” on female migrant workers through ethnography, public records, and anthropological observation. Roy employs a gender analytic along with a highly theoretical approach that utilizes Antonio Gramsci, Micheal Foucault, and Jiurgen Habermas through Fraser’s “counterpublics”. City Requiem ‘s gendered analytic documents numerous themes regarding the landless migrants of Calcutta’s outskirts including the “feminization of work”, the negotiability of “informality”, and the “double gendering” of settlement life, As opportunities in the countryside remain desperate, increasing numbers of the poor migrate to the cities. With this new “distress migration” comes the proliferation of slums and squatter settlements. Despite the marginality ascribed to both forms of shelter, slum dwellers hold a slightly more secure position in a stratified South Asian society. Roy notes the negotiability of the unmapped Calcutta landscape. This allows both the state and political parities to operate through a “negotiability”, that ensures the existence of squatter settlements to serve state/party interests. The state benefits from the accessible labor while the party utilizes the squatter presence for “political mobilization.” The shifting around of squatters to various areas around Calcutta illustrates this power dynamic. Roy attempts to melt the urban rural divide noting that in her field work she discovered the interconnectedness of squatter settlements and the wider region, “each of my fieldwork sites was a node, an intersection of practices and exchanges that stretched across multiple institutional and physical spaces.” Access to land depended the negotiations of domestic lives. Political sponsorships and local politics generally reflected a masculinized discourse, harnessed often by unemployed men to justify their activities. In contrast, women found themselves subject to work from domestic service to foraging for firewood. Of course, this excludes what many characterize as their “second shift” which involves caring for children, maintaining some sense of family structure. Roy finds that the female networks of support often withered in the face of economic political realities of squatter settlements, though masculinized political systems fared only marginally better. Referring to this as “double gendering” , notes “that [it] inextricably links the feminization of livliehood to the masculinization of politics.” Ultimately, such formations maintain a “persistent poverty” that “must be understood as the knotting of family and regime, a congealing of gender and class hierarchies.”
If gender reveals power dynamics and the hegemonic structures individuals negotiatate daily, Roy’s interaction with the commuter women accomplishes this task well. As mentioned, the “feminization of livliehood” emerges as a significant theme. Moreover, the bodies of women become stand in for nation. As Laura Briggs in Reproducing Empire or Amy Kaplan in The Anarchy of Empire illustrate the discourse of motherhood creates space for women politically and socially, however, Roy also cautions that it might actually domesticate issues of “community involvement and development.” The presence of commuter women on Bengal’s trains serves as a disruption of the gender and class hierarchies. Roy pushes further arguing that “the commuter women come to occupy the bourgeois spaces of normalized public, and they do so with a sense of entitlement and belonging.. ” Much like late nineteenth and early twentieth century American “factory girls”, commuter women endure repeated questioning of their sexual character and practices. Roy situates such women as parallels to the figures of African American women in earlier decades. Thus, their work and presence serves as a political act, though masculine discourses frequently attempt to dispute such inferences. In this way, “by emphasizing how the depoliticization of women’s work occurs on a daily basis through the dynamics of masculinest patronage” Roy argues domestications are “negotiated through lived practices” not policies or government agendas. Additionally, Roy reveals ways in which despite their unequal circumstances, that squatters and migrants see their limited participation in “urban informality” as their place in an urban electorate whereas their previous existence in rural areas displayed a perceived lack of such agency. Finally, City Requiem illustrates spatial themes that Globalizing Cities, Cities and Third World Development, and Of States and Cities illustrate, most notably the idea of historical contingency especially for former colonial metropolises. Her use of space and squatter legal legitimacy along with her anthropological field approach appear reminiscent of Working the Boundaries and Latino Crossings. However though both of these latter works engage gender, they fail to focus on it as extensively as City Requiem.
As with the above examples, many social scientists and historians find globalization to be a complicated process that fails to deliver on many of its promises. Like De Genova, Adam McKewon exhibits a skepticism toward nation-states and their borders. McKeown’s Melancholy Order: Asian Migration and the Globalization of Borders pushes back against recent work on globalization. For McKeown, recent work on this trend neglects the historical dynamic of border creation. The lack of nuance in such debates irks McKeown who notes that globalization follows neither a linear path of progression nor a more negative decline into chaos rather it creates new identities and urban networks sometimes in opposition to what may seem to a “homogenizing universalism.” Along the way, McKeown invokes theoretical approaches by Foucault and Jurgen Habermas while paying close attention to the transnational nature of migration policy. American migration policy develops in relation to international events/perceptions and interaction with nation states such as China and Japan. Like Paul Kramer and others, McKeown also notes that the counter flow of imperialized subjects to American shores (Filipinoes, Chinese and so forth) which upset American racial hierarchies contributing to the future independence of the Philippines as anti-imperialists and local labor antagonisms conspired to eliminate future Asian migration by endorsing independence.
Melancholy Order illustrates the influence of new cultural approaches to history. Though it examines juridical examples, government policy, and interaction between government and societal elites, McKeown also explores the discourse around migration and those engaging in such movement. Before 1870, governments explored various migration policies. According to McKeown, a key shift in migration policy occurred in the 1870s when the language of commerce began to overpower the previous language of intercourse. This occurred concurrently with the rise of the nation-state which became both the arbiter and giver of rights. Asian governments established institutions to “enforce free migration” from abuses by “despotic regimes” or “brokers”. In contrast, American policy makers declared all private “organization of migration” illegitimate unless it adhered to government surveillance, thus establishing a pattern of demonization regarding local migration actors and organizations that continues today. Migration never occurred freely. Regulation unfolded either from government officials and workers or previous to a secure nation state, local actors and organizations. This is not to say one was inherently more equitable than the other, however it does illustrate the reality of migration itself as a heavily mediated process.
Asian migrants found themselves caught in a discourse of slavery, corruption, and immorality. Chinese laborers, sometimes referred to as “coolies”, endured conflations with forced labor while many Chinese women were assumed to be licentious and disease ridden. Similarly, Chinese men (followed by Japanese and Filipinoes) were portrayed as opium smoking corrupting womanizers who might sell white women into sexual slavery. If this lacked cultural force, the combination of egalitarian tropes of self government and the distrust of “big capital” further undermined the social and economic position of Asian laborers.
The rise of the nation-state, racism, and economic interest, all influenced conceptions of global movement. However, extraterrioriality and the idea of “civilized states” also contributed significantly to migration policy. “Civilized nations” were accorded greater respect and rights internationally, the presence of extraterritorial rights in one’s other nations served as an indicator of a country’s civilizing deficiencies. Additionally, American mobs attacking Chinese subjects in the U.S. weakened Chinese views of their own government’s efficacy. The failure of China’s government to protect its subjects in some ways undermined its authority, thus officials engaged in self-restriction in an effort to address this issue despite its lack of political strength.
The rise of passports attempted to monitor migration but when its proliferation from numerous sources caused doubts, visas arose. Still, for many observers devices as visas and passports failed to regulate migration flows adequately. Therefore, several Anglo nations incorporated the “race neutral” “Natal Formula” to stem immigration. Even Japan and India adopt their own passport controls over “potential emigrants” signaling “the logic of discrete cultural nations and border control had superseded empire as the most relevant political form for a world of mass mobility.” Moreover by mid century, national economic interest served as both “a globally accepted justification of all forms of migration control, but a foundation for the very understanding of migration and regulation.” Yet, this economic focus obscured the fact that “race and the ideal of self government had worked together to make the national community more attractive than empire as a form of political membership in a modern world of free migration.”
Ultimately, McKeown’s work hopes to prevent a forgetting of past policies, which might very well lead to solutions or migration policy that repeat mistakes of the past while ignoring the nuanced reality of the issue. Anti-Asian migratory controls across empires reveals the seeds of today’s debates. The tools of identification and border control emerged not recently but in the late nineteenth century, continuing to service today in debates over issues of self determination and rights Such language and frameworks developed not recently but last century, having only hardened over tine.
IV. Housing Forms, Homes, and Homeownership
By the early 1980s, writers had also begun to address the meaning of various housing types and the discourses or identities associated with them. Undoubtedly the free market rhetoric of the 1980s encouraged several scholars to adopt skeptical views of home ownership, seeing in such formations the co-option of residents by free market capitalism. For writers like Anthony King, David Harvey and to a lesser extent Richard Ronald, the home became the site of capital accumulation entwining its inhabitants into a consumerist wage earning existence and recasting cultural-social relations.
Anthony King published The Bungalow: The Production of Global Culture in 1984. King combined an interdisciplinary approach with a transnational perspective, tracing the growth of the “bungalow” from its indigenous existence in India to the colonial appropriations by British imperialists in India and Africa to its North American counterparts, ending with Australia’s adoption. Moreover, like many other historians of the period, King discusses the bungalow in the context of cultural production, economics, politics (notably urban planning), and imperialism.
Beginning with the bungalow’s emergence among India’s people, King illustrates how British imperialists adopted many of its aspects while altering it in various ways. Imperialists utilized the bungalow to house its civil servants and officials ruling India. The spatialization of such housing (externally and internally) effectively helped socially segregate both the British from its Indian subjects but also later for class divisions between Indians themselves. With the onset of the 20th century, Indian elites employed by the British empire as government officials and the expansion of the colonial economy contributed to the growth of an Indian middle class that came to occupy similar housing. Patterns of racial spatialization easily slid into social segregation by class. A key factor in the spread of the bungalow rests on this economic expansion. Bungalows served as a key form of capital accumulation in this context. The bungalow also recast family relations. Extended families in colonial Africa found themselves unable to occupy such housing, forcing the nuclear family formation on peoples who practiced a different set of familial relations.
Yet, the bungalow remained a primarily Indo-British product. Its initial appearance in England revolved around in part changes in the rural economy and the value of rural land due to industrialization and transportation innovations, as well as the result of expanding London businesses and capital mobility. Located predominantly in seaside locations, the bungalow was imbued with health and sanitary ideals stressing the value of nature, sea air, and open green space. Additionally, upper middle class values found expression in the housing form. The prefabrication of the bungalow in early 20th century England resulted in a reorganization of land use and value. As these processes progressed, the cultural forms taking shape around the bungalow emphasized simplicity and a bohemian lifestyle. Government subsidies led to a proliferation in their development. Interestingly, just as the bungalow came to be a possible dwelling for working class English, bourgeoisie critics began to disparage its architectural traits while urban planners made their construction less feasible, ostensibly limiting the lower classes from sharing space with the middle and upper classes.
In North America, the bungalow appealed to reformers (who emphasized space, nature, and gendered spatialization of the interior), feminists (who stressed simplicity and efficiency) and anti-communist tropes that privileged its individualistic aspects over more communal architecture such as apartments. However, post WWII prosperity left the bungalow in dire straits as it was seen as too austere and limiting. The California bungalow drew increased attentions as its cultural form spread far and wide.
As British colonial expansion continued, Africans witnessed the re-importation of the form, which King argues further altered familial structures, social segregation (during and after colonialism), and cultural values. For imperialists it supplied shelter and protection from malaria and other diseases. The imposition of nuclear family structures disrupted more typical extended family arrangements common to Africa. (To be fair, King focuses heavily on Western Africa.) Perhaps, of equal importance, imperialism’s decline did not remove the spatial markers associated with the bungalow. African elites embraced social segregation while firmly placing themselves in the wage-earning sphere of western capitalist expansion. If land had been under a form of collective ownership, the bungalow and the spatial patterns that came with it led to a more individualistic/commercial form. Moreover, western materials and techniques pervaded African housing.
Coming to Australia last, King notes that the world’s smallest continent serves as a control subject, since it lacked a previously built environment and featured a relatively homogenous population. Australia’s lack of development meant it grew wholly from Britain’s economic surplus, or what King calls ‘dependent urbanization’. Moreover, the lack of previous development meant that none were ever industrial nor did they inherit “old preindustrial housing or newer rented ‘industrial’ housing built to accommodate labor close to factories.” Ironically, California’s example rather than Britain’s provided the basic inspiration for Australia’s bungalow proliferation. The bungalow combined with zoning to protect and maintain property values. Australians turned to the bungalow because its artistic individualism and rustic appearance appealed to the capitalist development taking hold.
Ultimately, the bungalow emerged as a form of capitalist accumulation and consumption: new needs from the romantic ideal of newlyweds sharing their first home to the materials required for construction to the consumer products employed within. The bungalow became embedded within a broader ideology that ties individualism to homeownership.
In contrast, Marxist thinker David Harvey focuses less on form and more on space. Harvey wants to limit the privileged position scholars have designated time and history over space and geography. For Harvey, the emphasis on time and history, though valuable, ignores equally important developments: “Historical materialism appeared to license the study of historical transformations while ignoring how capitalism produces its own geography.” Too many works failed to truly conceptualize how “space is produced and how the process of production of space integrate into the capitalist dynamic and its contradictions… ” Harvey’s contribution in Consciousness and the Urban Experience utilizes theory, cultural productions and the “experiences” of Parisians from 1850-1870 to provide a catalog of capitalistic urbanization’s affects and as he noted, contradictions .
As a leading Marxist, Harvey’s ideas regarding monetization and the pervasive influence of capital mobility should come as little surprise. According to Harvey, the community of money imposes individualism along with “certain conceptions of liberty, freedom, and equality backed by laws of private property, rights to appropriation, and freedom of contract.” For Harvey, money “concentrates social power in space” with little restraint which in turn commodifies space such that it brings “all space under the single measuring rod of money value.” The real danger here for Harvey lay in commodification’s ability to undermine class relations where people identify themselves along differentiated lines of status that rarely illustrate inclusiveness. Despite its obvious Marxist leanings, Harvey’s point resonates as such processes unfolded in nineteenth century France and post WWII America . This community of money fragments society while also subsuming other forms of solidarities. Circulation of capital or capital mobility as some writers might characterize it, functions to destabilize identities and memberships even fragmenting protest against it. Harvey continues in this vein noting that homeownership replaces class identity with a property based one. In this context, the state functions to restrain the “disintegrating tendencies of money, time and space in the face of the contradictions of capital circulation.” Lack of money for some means they must resort to other methods in order to articulate their territorial privileges.
Labor processes unfold within this context. However, as Harvey notes they tend to divide in two general directions: one that focuses on wages and the other on residential access. Harvey places much of his attention on this latter issue. As with Anthony King’s history of the bungalow, Harvey points out capital accumulation develops in such a commoditized land market. Again, as with King, industrialization, capital mobility, and business profits combine to project the “community of money”; moreover, capital accumulation requires constant growth and the creation of new social wants and needs, just as King’s bungalows supplied a site for this consumerist process. Capital must exert control over labor not only in work but also in consumerism. For Harvey, it appears to be a totalizing and inescapable force. In terms of its relation to the “built environment”, it becomes a central node of struggle as capital and labor battle over “what is good for accumulation and what is good for people.” With this in mind, capitalist forces depend on the obscuring of their own roles in the process.
Harvey applies his theoretical apparatus to Paris under the Second Empire (1850-1870). Without completely retracing every example Harvey marshals one might focus on a few key points. The circulation of capital serves to spread the city outward allowing for small-scale urban development along Paris’ periphery. Utilizing the person of Baron Georges von Haussman as an almost nineteenth century Robert Moses, Harvey attempts to illustrate how what one might call today Haussman’s “urban renewal/redevelopment” policies affected spatial, political and class relations in the city. Circulation of capital allowed Haussman to prevent the divergent interests of this redevelopment from pulling itself apart. Land valuation and rents “increasingly functioned to allocate land to uses according to a distinctly capitalist logic.” Financial systems, as in 20th century America, clearly favored upper and upper middle class interests. Still, though this worked against working class interests, the circulation of capital and growth of peripheral development meant state surveillance suffered.
Interestingly, Harvey portrays Paris in this historical moment similarly to Saskia Sassen’s “global cities” of the 20th century, especially when he speaks of the survival of small scale labor intensive industry in the face of larger commercial enterprises and in reference to economies of agglomeration. Again, as with Sassen’s twentieth century counterparts, gendered labor occupies an important position. Though Sassen notes the “feminization of work” and similar processes, Harvey finds corresponding evidence that women served as key players in the Parisian economy dominating domestic service while supplying cheap labor to manufacturers. Women’s authority came to hold an acknowledged place in the home and through education, much like middle class North American women of the reform movement. However, most women who were unattached to a male figure or patron found themselves at the mercy of a severely gendered employment market. This led to the monetization and commodification of sexual relations and personal liaisons across classes. Prostitution and the various grey social areas around which it organizes emerge as common to Paris and American cities of late nineteenth century.
If Harvey viewed homeownership as a way for dominant forces to invisibly divide class relations, others have noted how the importance of homeownership have expanded on Harvey’s reflections on citizenship and belonging. America’s recent housing crisis occurred in great deal because of the near religious dedication to homeowner ideal, which was and is seen by many as the culmination of freedom, rights, and the American Dream. Ronald Richard’s The Ideology of Home Ownership: Homeowner Societies and the Role of Housing argues that this “religion” serves as ideology, promoting a property-based citizenship that privileges home ownership over public and rental housing. Exploring three Western societies and three East Asian, Ronald argues that “while housing units, systems practices, and traditions are considerably different, home ownership itself is becoming an increasingly evident and significant aspect of global modernity.”
Immediately, Ronald addresses the acceptance of home ownership as a “natural” phenomenon among humanity, noting that “overall owner occupied tenure levels have principally increased in most societies during specific periods of deep government subsidy.” The homeowner identity emerged as the ideal both in terms citizenship, domesticity, and adulthood. Additionally, renters and others have experienced stigmatization and marginalization due to such developments. While globalization’s forces have resulted in the proliferation of home ownership which in turn “restructured” housing systems themselves and the “housing ‘dimension’ of the social structure,” this also contributed to increasing levels of individualization, the “redistribution of risk”, government restructuring, driving shifts or realignments of housing’s centrality such that it now serves as an integral influence on social relations.
The demonization of public housing residents in America exhibits a long history. However, Ronald pushes this discourse further suggesting a possible hierarchy of tenure that places renting just above homelessness. Housing increasingly finds value as a “private market good rather than a social merit good”. This underpins the broader commodification of social relations, with market practices constituted as the best and most appropriate means of welfare provision, and state mediation the least. In this way the state shifts risk from itself to individuals, all while promoting market primacy.
The role of tenure and housing systems in developing social organization and power relations serves as one of Ronald’s primary aims. Ronald wants historians and others to reconsider previous conceptions that conflated homeownership with bourgeois ideology, arguing that it no longer adequately explains “the complex relationships between private housing consumption and socio-ideological practices.” In this way, the extension of homeownership binds “the individual into private property relations, tying them to the prevailing structures and ideologies of capital.” Anthony King, whom Ronald frequently cites, noted similar developments in the transnational spread of the bungalow in terms of its role in capital accumulation, drawing its inhabitants further into wage labor economic system, especially patterns of consumption. Thus, housing also functions as a medium of “economic differentiation.” However, homeowner identities also function to spur political mobilization against both state and non-state actors.
The book’s transnational comparative framework enables it to not only compare Anglo-Saxon societies housing with that of East Asia, but also to explore differences and similarities within these two categorical examples. Thus, while drawing upon similarities, Ronald posits the diversity between all examples. Though Western societies reached mass home ownership through different frameworks and policies (i.e. subsidies, finance systems, and government measures) several “convergent features emerge”. First, “discursive processes and policy development rather than a ‘natural’ phenomenon” explain this growth. Second, housing discourses, tenure policy, and “hegemonic features” illustrate an “apparent” relationship. Third, the “ideological significance of homeownership” no longer relates to “building social conservative hegemonies” as it is in reorienting … households” toward neo-liberal markets and policies. Since homeowners transform into market consumers and subjects, the freedom of markets exerts a central influence since “the constitution of houses as market objects demands that the most effective form of provision depends on the freedom of markets, and state interventions which undermine the market, such as the provision of public housing, is undesirable.”
In contrast to the Anglo Saxon examples, their East Asian counterparts do not exhibit a property-based citizenship nor do they transform home owners into subjects of neoliberalism. In general, housing “policies have primarily constituted housing as a market object and oriented housing subjects around patterns of family consumption and family based welfare” Nor does individualism exert the kind of influence as seen in Anglo Saxon societies; instead, homeownership in these East Asian societies “emphasized particular forms of social mainstream subjectivity.” On a more macroeconomic level, East Asian “welfare capitalism relies on more hegemonic social practices based on rapid economic growth.” Though great differences exist in terms of welfare schemes, political groups, and modernization patterns, they do share a productivist welfare orientation regime that attempts to achieve greater social equity while fulfilling welfare responsibilities through “economic growth.” The state intervenes but “with market based consumption”. In comparison to western societies, the East Asian model emphasizes the family as welfare provider, which in turn has relied more and more on access to property, specifically housing. This housing increasingly depended on further economic growth for higher valuations. Homeownership in Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore all unfolds within an ideological conception that postulates homeownership as a means to economic and social objectives. Historical contingencies that affect built environment and economics such as those pointed out by contributors to Of Cities and States, Globalizing Cities, and Cities and Third World Development emerge as well. Singapore and Hong Kong’s histories each endured colonialism.
In general - though especially in Anglo Saxon nations - home ownership practices transferred the focus from the government to the market. Numerous discourses then work to “restructure dwelling subjects around housing objects in terms sympathetic to the operation of markets.” Still, East Asian nations treat housing and education as public goods with housing also serving as the source of family wealth. Moreover, in this context, the home as capital accumulation “facilitates” spending and welfare practices, while education operates to increase “human capital,” enhancing family wealth and consumption. Thus, the demand for universal rights or decommodified social welfare fail to develop. Ultimately, three basic convergences emerge between East and West, the first being the importance of “political sponsorship in successfully establishing a home ownership system.” The second regards normative discourses that posit individual homeownership as natural, “connected to a cultural owner-occupier heritage” . This normalization may prove more critical than ideologies. Though the function and content of ideologies in relation to consumption differ, a connection between home ownership, conservatism, middle class formation, and social stability operates as a central feature of social and political discourses. Ronald points out the key insight that increasingly Anglo Saxon governments look to owner occupied households and the capital accumulation therein as a “means to support the reduction of welfare services, erode state pension provision and undermine universal welfare rights.” In contrast, East Asian societies have embraced reduced state intervention and control over housing and housing markets, while extending some social security benefits. Still, the emphasis on asset accumulation within the home as a way to subvert welfare funding and provisions suggests, as Ronald points out, a meeting of East and West in the middle.
Telecommunication and financial innovations of the last 30 years have helped to accelerate processes that increased the scale of globalization. Moreover, the increasingly urbanized world illustrates the need for scholars to understand and examine the motives behind migration and immigration along with the very people who participate in the movement. Historians and social scientists in recent years have begun to address these new developments, especially through urban and metropolitan networks. This transnational framework addresses numerous issues and methodologies. The sociology of Sassen, the anthropology of Roy, and the history of McKewon all serve to address the various aspects of globalization’s processes. Transnational capital flows alter economic and spatial relationships which manifest themselves in countless ways. While the nation-state may have declined in its ability to control populations, it remains a relevant force directing investment and spatialization. Therefore, the need to understand the interplay between state and non-state actors in the advanced and developing worlds emerges as a pivotal concept. The role the state plays in privileging, harnessing, and dealing with transnational actors and flows of peoples, goods, and capital requires an understanding that incorporates interdisciplinary research. No one field can address all the complexities that an accelerated globalization has wrought.