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Yin-wah Chu

This chapter examines two major initiatives of China’s ‘New Urbanization Plan (2014-2020),’ namely, efforts to optimize the pattern of urbanization in China and to allow some rural migrants to register as urban residents. It will make three interrelated arguments. First, the Plan not only presents a blueprint for spatial development, it also at once outlines spatial fixes to simultaneously address the challenges of economic development and social inclusion, and designs the latter to buttress each other. Second, the spatial fixes and the Plan in general adhere to the logic of ‘state neoliberalism,”’ a term coined to characterize the Communist Party-state’s development strategy, which subjects the social inclusion initiatives to market relations and so circumscribes their effectiveness. Third, in juxtaposing the New Urbanization Plan with China’s post-1949 patterns of urban development, the chapter argues in addition that, while the Plan and its initiatives hold elements of novelty, they follow from and are reflective of the country’s ongoing practices of urbanization. Significantly, urban agglomeration has not been a function of economic development alone, but also reflective of statist interests in national security and ‘socialist’ legitimacy. Taken together, while not advocating the articulation of country-specific theories of urbanization, it suggests the need for greater historical and institutional sensitivity in their development.

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Dag Harald Claes

The final chapter situates oil as part of the global energy system, describing the recent patterns of energy consumption. The potential for reduction of oil consumption in order to reduce CO2 emissions is discussed both in the industrial and transportation sector. The chapter also discuss the role of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change on future oil consumption, emphasizing the possible reactions from oil-producing countries and oil investors. The final section discuss the general opportunities and obstacles for reducing emission from the oil sector.

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Simon Dalby

Climate change is an increasingly urgent matter of global politics, a consequence of the huge success of the fossil-fueled global economy. The longstanding discussion of the Gaia hypothesis, James Lovelock’s ideas of earth as a self-regulating life system, and the dangers that rising greenhouse gas concentrations present to this system, foreshadow contemporary earth system science discussions. The formulation of earth as now in a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene, has added forcefully to Lovelock’s contentions, and made it clear that globalization now needs to be understood as a driving force operating at such a scale that it is transforming the planet in ways that are very dangerous for the future of humanity. Current attempts to tackle climate change are only the beginning of what needs to be done to shape the Anthropocene in ways that will be benign to humanity’s future.

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Joe Williams

This chapter argues that the development of large-scale seawater desalination over the last two decades has been intimately linked to the privatisation, commercialisation and commodification of water services in general, and urban water in particular. It contends that a desalination “plant” should be more accurately understood as a desalination “factory”, which creates a manufactured product (potable water) in a pre-arranged quantity and with a pre-specified quality. The chapter provides a detailed analysis of the convoluted development of desalination as a decentralised and local water supply for San Diego, California. It focuses on two plants on the North American Pacific coast: the 189 ML/day Carlsbad Desalination Plant in San Diego County, which opened in 2015; and a larger facility currently under construction south of the US-Mexico border at Rosarito Beach, Baja California, which is heralded as the first ever “binational” seawater desalination project. My core contention here is that desalination is emerging as an important technology in political and ideological shift towards the neoliberalisation of municipal water supply.

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Jean-Pascal Daloz

This chapter engages the cultural realm of meaning with the study of comparative politics. Taking the departure from a criticism of several schools of thought in comparative politics within both the universalist and relativist paradigms, the chapter introduces an inductive methodology based on the thick description of locally meaningful codes within their historical and socio-cultural context. It argues that the interpretation of meaning constitutes a new form of scientific reasoning likely to offer comparative insights and not, as is frequently believed, simply add contextual knowledge. Drawing on different interpretations of meanings of political representation in Scandinavia, Nigeria and France, this chapter shows how representation is lived, performed, and understood within culturally rich local contexts.

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Henning Lohmann and Hannah Zagel

Over the last few decades, comparative family policy research has advanced not only theoretically but also as an empirical research field. This chapter by Lohmann and Zagel contributes a methodological perspective to the field by providing an overview on existing approaches for comparing family policies across countries. The authors address conceptual issues, discuss different measurement approaches, as well as a range of existing databases and methods for aggregating family policy indicators. They propose several quality criteria which can be used for selecting family policy indicators for country comparisons in quantitative analyses. Similar to other policy fields, family policies may be operationalized and compared in several different ways. Two common empirical perspectives may be identified as distinct approaches for comparing policies across countries: the expenditures and the social rights perspectives. Lohmann and Zagel present the outcome perspective as a supplementary approach. Finally, the authors provide some path-breaking examples of family policy typologies and indices. They discuss how theoretical concepts in the field of family policy such as familization, defamilization, individualization or dedomestification can provide fruitful starting points for the comparison of family policy.

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Birgit Pfau-Effinger

In the first decades after World War II, many European countries had a particularly conservative policy towards the work-family relationship and childcare in that they supported women’s role as caring mother instead of women’s employment and public daycare for children. However, since the 1990s, many European welfare states have changed their family policy and offered support for women’s labor market integration and a more gender-egalitarian policy for parents of small children. The chapter by Pfau-Effinger explores how far welfare states that have been characterized as a conservative type of welfare regime at the end of the 1980s according to Esping-Andersen have changed their family policies since then, and how differences regarding persistence and change in family policies can be explained. The empirical study analyses the role of cultural, institutional and socio-structural factors for the explanation of persistence and change in family policies in the time period between 1990 and 2015 in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. It uses document analysis, analyses of statistical data and surveys, and secondary analysis of historical studies. The findings show that cultural change in the population can be an important explanatory factor for change in welfare state policies. However, cultural change does not per se create policy change, the lack of which can be caused by ambiguity in the cultural change itself, as in the example of Swiss family policies.

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Anna Gerbrandy and Rutger Fransen

Chapter 8 by Anna Gerbrandy and Rutger Fransen deals with competition law and the European Union (EU) democratic deficit. The chapter discusses the constraints imposed by competition rules on the process of democratic empowerment of citizens in the EU. In particular, it examines the various ways in which civil society and individual citizens are involved in the increasing push for responsible business conduct (RBC) initiatives and how the current approach to the application of EU competition rules has had a restrictive influence on the implementation of these initiatives. This task first involves understanding the EU competition rules that are relevant for cooperation mechanisms between firms when seeking to attain public aims (in particular, for environmental protection and sustainability). In doing so, the chapter identifies barriers which EU citizens, including companies, face when implementing RBC initiatives. Second, the chapter examines this so-called ‘competition law problem’ through the underlying theories on European integration, the role of private firms as political actors, as well as the relationship between member states and the EU when implementing national policy goals through RBC initiatives. Finally, the chapter will provide an outlook on how to ensure the focus on ‘market’ Europe does hinder the movement toward greater democratic involvement of EU citizens in setting social and environmental policy goals.

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Kris Bezdecny and Kevin Archer

The past half-century has seen a fragmentation of urban theory, one that is also evidenced in city-spaces. Cities have been labeled post-modern, post-industrial, post-colonial, mega, global, sustainable, creative, neoliberal, gentrified, themed, among a multitude of theoretical framings. All of these framings are descriptive of key dynamics witnessed in some (but not all) cities, but none describe well all those dynamics in any city. This is a problem showcased by current debates in urban theory today, particularly the recent debate between Scott and Storper (2015) in their discussion of the nature of cities, contested by such researchers as Mould (2016) and Roy (2016b), which calls into question whether a shared theoretical understanding of the ‘city’ is even possible. Indeed, this kind of debate has only intensified as urbanization continues its hyper-acceleration on a planetary scale (Brenner, 2014). As of 2009, over half the world’s population lives in a city (UNDESA, 2014). This means that roughly twice as many people are (re)producing their lived spaces in cities than the entire global population in 1900. An estimated one in eight people live in a megacity, or in cities with a population greater than 10 million; nearly half live in cities with a population below 0.5 million (UNDESA, 2016). By 2050, it is anticipated that as many as two-thirds of all people will be living in cities – with modest gains in already urbanized North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe and exploding growth in Asia and Africa – ultimately resulting in as many city-people at mid-century as live on the Earth today (UNDESA, 2009). Not all cities are created equal. Cities are often ranked competitively, based on a variety of criteria: population size, areal size (land consumed), and economic value. There are currently 214 cities ranked as global cities, those deemed most important to facilitating the global economy (Friedmann, 1986; Beaverstock, Smith and Taylor, 1999; GaWC, 2016). These are further ranked as alpha (49), beta (81), and gamma (84) cities – further demarcating the disparities between the command-andcontrol centers of global capital (while erasing those cities that are not considered competitive enough to be ranked) (GaWC, 2016). The megacity, by contrast, ranks cities by absolute population size, with 47 cities meeting the megacity definition of a population of 10 million or greater, and roughly 600 more cities having a population of 1 million or greater (UNDESA, 2016). Interestingly, there is overlap between urban definitions, in that cities defined by one definition become more likely (or less likely) to also meet an alternative definition (shown by the 40 out of 47 megacities that are also ranked as global cities).

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Richard Eccleston and Ainsley Elbra

Economic liberalisation and the rise of MNCs in recent decades have been a double-edged sword. With the exception of the 2008 Financial Crisis and its aftermath, the rise of global capitalism has been a key driver of economic growth and technological innovation, but at the same time has undermined state sovereignty and exacerbated inequality (Mikler 2018). Nowhere has this dualism been more apparent than in the realm of corporate taxation, which has become a prime example of what Martin Wolf (2012) describes as a ‘contemporary tragedy of the global commons’. The ‘tragedy’ is such that MNC tax avoidance is now estimated to deny governments over a quarter of a trillion US dollars per year, and after years of ignoring the issue governments and firms are being forced to act (Clausing 2015; OECD 2015).