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Keywords:

  • city assets;
  • social complexity;
  • public spaces;
  • urban citizenship;
  • economic creativity;
  • social justice

As debates on globalization have progressed from an earlier phase in which commentators saw the intensification of world-scale flows and processes as the negation of local identities and autonomies, the city has been ‘rediscovered’ as the powerhouse of the globalized economy. Against the view that questions, for example, the continued specificity of the urban in an era increasingly mediated by locationally liberating, advanced telecommunications and rapid transport networks, some strands of urban research assert that cities are becoming more important as the key creative, control and cultural centres within globalizing economic, cultural and social dynamics. Building on these strands, this paper evaluates the assets that cities and metropolitan regions provide in an era of globalization. It attempts to develop an alternative perspective on the city based on the idea that contemporary urban life is founded on the heterogeneity of economic, social, cultural and institutional assets, and concludes by using this perspective to develop implications for urban policy and the quest for social and territorial justice.