Urbanization, Work and Community: The Logic of City Life in the Contemporary World

Allen J. Scott


Purpose: I initiate the discussion with a statement about cognitive-cultural capitalism and its concentration in large global cities. This is followed by an argument to the effect that the specificity of the city resides in the manner in which the diverse social phenomena that it contains are brought into a composite pattern of spatial integration. With these preliminaries in mind, I examine the economic structure of the city in cognitive-cultural capitalism, with special reference to the emergence of a new division of labor and the changing configuration of intra-urban production space. This account leads directly to consideration of the restratification of urban society and its effects on neighborhood development and social life. The final section of the paper picks up on the notion of the Common in cognitive-cultural capitalism and offers some speculative remarks regarding the implications of this phenomenon for the economic and social order of cities.

Methodology/Approach: Historical and geographical narrative combined with appeals to the theory of political economy.

Findings: Cognitive-cultural capitalism is emerging as a dominant force of social and economic change in the twenty-first century. This trend is also evident in new patterns of urbanization that are emerging on all five continents. These patterns reflect dramatic shifts in the structure of urban production systems and the significant restratification of urban society that has been occurring as a consequence.

Research Limitation/implication: The paper is pitched at a high level of conceptual abstraction. Detailed empirical investigation/testing of the main theoretical points outlined in the paper is urgently called for.

Originality/Value of paper: The paper offers an overall theoretical synthesis of the interrelationships between cognitive-cultural capitalism and processes of urbanization.


capitalism; cognitive-cultural economy; Common; global city-regions; urbanization

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12776/qip.v21i1.785


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