Monday, 15 October 2007

The urban economy

The third Seminar dealt with abstract concepts such as Globalisation and "Space of flows". We had read texts by Saskia Sassen en Ash Amin from the book A companion to the city amongst others, each representing their view of how the postindustrial city adapted to the new world order. A swedish text in which the author attempted to operationalise Manuel Castells ideas of the space of flows and the space of place was also part of the literature. The arguments in this text were basically that "people live at places while the power reigns though flows" and "the elite is cosmopolitic - the people is local."
Our assignment was to operationalise these abstract concepts by describing in about one page (A4) what we would research in case we'd write about the new urban ecoconomy and how we would do that. We had a text by Helle Nörgaard as an example, in which she tests Saskia Sasssen thesis aboutglobal cities and social polarisation on the case study of New York. She looked at income level and compared the income level of the newly immigrated labour force with that of the established white urban professionals working in FIRE (Finance, Insurance and Real Estate). Nörgaard found little evidence for Sassen's thesis.
The value of a seminar like this is that it really makes you think about how easywe use abstract terms such as globalisation. But it is a lot more difficult to define these terms and texts really need a lot of "unpacking" before we, the readers, really understand it and even more thinking before we can come to concrete terms and phenomena that are empirically testable.

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