A World in Emergence
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A World in Emergence

Cities and Regions in the 21st Century

Allen J. Scott

Beginning with the recent history of capitalism and urbanization and moving into a thorough and complex discussion of the modern city, this book outlines the dynamics of what the author calls the third wave of urbanization, characterized by global capitalism’s increasing turn to forms of production revolving around technology-intensive artifacts, financial services, and creative commodities such as film, music, and fashion. The author explores how this shift toward a cognitive and cultural economy has caused dramatic changes in the modern economic landscape in general and in the form and function of world cities in particular. Armed with cutting-edge research and decades of expertise, Allen J. Scott breaks new ground in identifying and explaining how the cities of the past are being reshaped into a complex system of global economic spaces marked by intense relationships of competition and cooperation.
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Chapter 3: Toward a new economy: technology, labor, globalization

Allen J. Scott


Capitalism is endemically subject to a logic of evolutionary change. For greater or lesser periods of time relatively stable regimes comprising dominant sectors, technologies, labor relations, and forms of competition may make their appearance, but these are always superseded by other versions of capitalism marked by other organizational structures. The 19th century factory and workshop system developed in a climate of open economic competition and was able to produce a variety of output but at a limited scale. In 20th century keynesian–fordist society, the automated assembly line freed production from quantitative restraint, but at the expense of variety. Producers in the new globally competitive economy of the 21st century are able to achieve significant economies of scale, but are now also capable of combining scale with ever-shifting product variety. This latest version of capitalism is dramatically different from anything that theorists in the middle of the 20th century foresaw as the shape of things to come. When Schumpeter (1942) wrote his great book on capitalism, socialism and democracy, he tried to deduce the future by extrapolating forward out of the condition of American mass production at the time, and accordingly he foresaw a never-ending continuation of capital-intensification, mechanization, and increasing internal economies of scale in corporate enterprise.

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