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Keywords:

  • LA School;
  • Shanghai;
  • Los Angeles;
  • comparative urbanism;
  • urban paradigm

Abstract

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Globalization and the World City
  5. Network society and cyber city
  6. Social polarization and the dual city
  7. Population/cultural diversity and the hybrid city
  8. Sustainable city
  9. Developmentalist state and urban entrepreneurialism
  10. Conclusion
  11. References

Abstract

This article gauges the applicability of five urban paradigms derived from the urban experience of the Western world, especially from that of Los Angeles, to the urban realities of an East Asian city: Shanghai, China. The five metaphors — world city, cyber city, dual city, hybrid city and sustainable city — are each examined against Shanghai's urban context. The findings are that for Shanghai, and probably other East Asian cities, world city can be modified to mega city or globalizing city to denote a process of becoming; cyber city is more applicable to the physical networks connecting people, goods and information, although a ubiquitous virtual space is also emerging; a dual city and social segmentation exist on three scales: intra-urban, local–global, and local–national; the hybrid city and sustainable city have been less of a concern in the past, but are gaining importance. Finally, given the significant role governments play in these cities, the notion of the developmentalist state is introduced. This broadened urban framework explicitly takes into account urban experiences in the East Asian context, and further extends the scope of comparative urban theorization and analysis, both spatially and temporally beyond the Western world.

Résumé

Cet article évalue dans quelle mesure cinq paradigmes urbains nés de l'expérience de la ville dans le monde occidental, notamment celle de Los Angeles, sont applicables aux réalités urbaines d'une ville d'Asie orientale, à savoir Shanghai. Tour à tour, les cinq métaphores — ville mondiale, ville cybernétique, ville duale, ville hybride et ville durable — sont analysées en fonction du contexte urbain de Shanghai. D'après les résultats, dans le cas de Shanghai et sans doute d'autres villes est-asiatiques, la ville mondiale peut être remplacée par la mégacité, ou la ville en voie de mondialisation pour marquer un processus en marche; la ville cybernétique s'applique mieux aux réseaux matériels qui relient individus, biens et informations, même si un espace virtuel généralisé est aussi en train de naître; la ville duale et la segmentation sociale existent dans trois dimensions: intra-urbaine, locale-mondiale et locale-nationale; la ville hybride et la ville durable suscitaient peu d'intérêt dans le passé, mais elles gagnent de l'importance. Pour finir, les gouvernements jouant un rôle considérable dans ces villes, la notion d'État développementaliste est présentée. Ce cadre de référence urbain élargi prend explicitement en compte les expériences urbaines dans le contexte est-asiatique, et repousse au-delà du monde occidental les limites de la théorisation et de l'analyse urbaines comparatives, à la fois aux plans spatial et temporel.


Introduction

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Globalization and the World City
  5. Network society and cyber city
  6. Social polarization and the dual city
  7. Population/cultural diversity and the hybrid city
  8. Sustainable city
  9. Developmentalist state and urban entrepreneurialism
  10. Conclusion
  11. References

The Los Angeles school of urbanism emerged towards the end of the twentieth century as a new framework for examining and portraying contemporary metropolises. Originating in the plural and intertwining urban fabrics of Los Angeles, this community of thought builds on and departs from the Chicago School and seeks to direct urban research to a different path of inquiry, both substantively and methodologically. Substantively, it urges urban researchers to embrace the real diversity, heterogeneity and sometimes contradicting dynamics of present urban life; methodologically, it challenges a purely analytical approach that is composed of formal modeling exercises. This school calls for a more systematic and holistic perspective on the city, with more attention to the specific history (time) and geography (space) embodied in the production of the place (Dear, 2000; 2005).

To further elaborate, the LA School revolutionizes the urban agenda in four different yet interrelated dimensions — urban epistemology, urban form, urban process and urban outcome. It takes on a totalizing point of view that runs counter to the reductionism that was a feature of the Chicago School and its modern tools. Advocates of this approach champion the use of representations and ‘metaphors’ to depict the city and the everyday experience of its residents, rather than mere diagrams and numbers. Such representations and metaphors as are applicable to Los Angeles include, but are not limited to, ‘edge city’ (Garreau, 1991), ‘third world city’ (Banerjee and Verma, 2001), ‘privatopia’ and ‘city as theme park’ (Dear and Flusty, 2001). This urban approach tolerates, if not promotes, the interpretation of the city from multiple angles and through multiple eyes, and denies the possibility of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ general theory that is universally applicable.

Besides the epistemological contribution, the LA school of urban theory also establishes grounds for dialogues on urban form, urban process and urban outcome. In urban morphology, if Chicago stands for the modern industrial city with a concentric-ring spatial structure (Burgess, 1925), then Los Angeles is portrayed as representing a new ‘epoch’, which is post-industrial, post-modern, post-Fordist and post-Chicago. In his study of edge cities in Los Angeles, Joel Garreau proclaimed that: ‘every American city that is growing, is growing in the fashion of Los Angeles’ (1991: 3). It boasts a multicentric polyglot urban form, which represents the flexibility of production and fluidity of a network society (Castells, 2000; Dear, 2000). In urban procedural terms, the Chicago model justifies the organization of the urban periphery by its core, whereas the LA school argues that, to the contrary, it is the periphery that delimits the urban center. The top-down, unidirectional, linear urban planning mode has been superseded by the bottom-up, multidirectional and random planning process that involves a multitude of agents and participants. When it comes to outcomes, this urban form and urban process overlap spatially and chronologically, producing an urban landscape of flexible economic production, demographic diversity, social dualism, cultural hybridity and political plurality. Five urban paradigms or metaphors are thus derived to depict the city under these intertwining forces.

These five urban paradigms — world city, cyber city, dual city, hybrid city and sustainable city — are shaped by five interrelated forces: globalization, the network society, social polarization, the hybridization of population and culture, and environmental degradation (Dear, 2005; for a similar view see Soja, 1996). Both authors base their generalizations on observations from the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area, which is believed to be representative of the new-era US metropolis. While it is reasonable to argue that these five urban dynamics characterize present Western urban experiences, urban areas in the developing world may generate similar or different local responses to the same types of forces. These urban areas feature distinctive development paths that are embedded in their heterogeneous economic, social, cultural and historical backgrounds and rely on their national economic and political climate. While the Western world has largely completed its urbanization process, countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America are still in their heyday of urbanization and have to cope with a series of issues that accompany this process. These urban areas are overwhelmed by the overlapping forces of globalization and urbanization in an information age and a wide range of possible urban outcomes could evolve out of this encounter.

This article uses the city of Shanghai, China as an example to test the relative validity of these five pillars of urban analysis in gauging a non-Western urban reality. It argues that, while the three concepts of world city, cyber city and dual city apply to Shanghai, they have somewhat different spatial and social manifestations in the East Asian context; that the hybrid city and the sustainable city are just beginning to emerge on Shanghai's urban agenda; and that one concept looms particularly large, namely the developmentalist state. In sum, our understanding of the urban outcomes of globalization is largely Western-biased. When we situate globalization in East Asia, we see a somewhat different picture. Comparative urban analysis, especially one that compares cities located in vastly different regimes, is challenging (Dear, 2005). This article thus provides a first step in juxtaposing Shanghai with Los Angeles and compares a range of urban empirics collected from different sources. The fact that each urban area is unique and their growth trajectories are diverse should not diminish the power of comparison and generalization or the importance of dialogue between various urban approaches. In what follows, these urban paradigms are discussed sequentially and summarized in the conclusion.

Globalization and the World City

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Globalization and the World City
  5. Network society and cyber city
  6. Social polarization and the dual city
  7. Population/cultural diversity and the hybrid city
  8. Sustainable city
  9. Developmentalist state and urban entrepreneurialism
  10. Conclusion
  11. References

The initial research framework of the world city (Friedmann and Wolf, 1982; Friedmann, 1986) pays special attention to cities' relative economic power and tends to rank them based on their economic and financial clout. World cities are spaces of global capital accumulation, and can be classified by their spatial articulations, which include global financial articulations, multinational articulations, important national articulations and subnational/regional articulations (Friedmann, 1995; Knox, 1995). A similar notion is the global city concept (Sassen, 1994), which defines global cities as key locations for finance, services and information technology, and as command centers of the global economy. Global city status is measured by the presence of transnational corporations and other institutions, as well as by the level of connectivity in various regards. By these criteria only three cities then qualified for global status: Tokyo, London and New York (Sassen, 2001). These frameworks adopt a quantitative ranking system to position cities by their relative indices of economic power and global connectivity. One recent exercise following this methodology placed Los Angeles among the top three US cities in the world city network, following New York and Chicago (Taylor and Lang, 2005). The Los Angeles Metropolitan Area has a population of around 18 million, and is the second most populous urban area in the United States. It extends over an area of 4,850 square miles and features a diverse and strong regional economy. A PricewaterhouseCoopers study (2007) showed that Los Angeles urban area had a $639 billion economy and was the third richest urban area in the world, just behind Tokyo and New York, in 2005.

All these definitions necessarily grant the prestigious world city status to only a handful of cities at the top of the global urban hierarchy. Some argue that the world/global city approach represents a homogenous, static and largely Western view of urban studies, which ignores the diversity of the urbanization process that is going on elsewhere and ‘imposes substantial limitations on imagining or planning the futures of cities around the world’ (Robinson, 2002: 531). Local responses to global forces diverge, and are highly contingent on geographical location, regional framework, national and urban regime, historical trajectory, and local culture and identity. Examinations of the newly industrialized economies (NIEs) in East Asia, including Wang's (2003) study of Taipei and Forrest et al.'s (2004) study of Hong Kong, among others, demonstrate these cities' somewhat different local conditions under unique economic and political forces.

Asia Pacific economies are launching an inter-city competition to gain world city status through the implementation of mega-projects (Olds, 1995; Douglass, 2000). Whereas many such cities are already acting as important regional economic players, they are still on the receiving end of global capital, and can hardly appear on the world city map in its strict sense. Some recent constructs take into account this process of ‘becoming’ rather than ‘being’ and appreciate these cities' economic importance given their growing population, significant production and consumption power, and increasing trade and commerce volumes. These include Scott et al.'s (2001) global city-region and Castells' (2000) mega city, both conceived as spatial nodes of the global economy. What distinguishes mega cities from other world cities is that most of them are ‘alien to the still dominant European/North American cultural matrix’ and that ‘they also function as magnets for their hinterlands’ (Castells, 2000: 434). Shanghai is on his list.

Shanghai is situated in the fertile Yangtze River Delta and on the east bank of the Huangpu River, facing the Pacific Ocean. It covers an area of 2,448 square miles and has rich water resources. With a population close to 20 million at the end of 2008, it is the second largest urban area in China and is incorporating some surrounding satellite cities into its territory. Shanghai was among the first Chinese treaty ports to open its gates to colonial forces in the mid-nineteenth century. Under divided occupation, a diverse and highly Westernized architectural base, urban structure and popular culture were established in the city, and by the 1930s Shanghai was already dubbed the ‘Paris of the Orient’ (Lee, 1999). In this sense, its cultural heritage deviates from a strict-sense mega city characterization. After the implementation of a ‘reform and opening-up’ policy in the late 1970s, Shanghai's sound industrial base and rich human and social capital burst into a new wave of economic vitality. Its favorable geographic location also put it in an important position within the national, regional and world economy.

Although identifying what makes a city ‘global’ is a fuzzy domain (Sassen, 2001), certain variables are frequently used to evaluate such status. As of 2008, 260 Fortune 500 companies had invested or established offices in Shanghai, of which 115 had their regional headquarters there. The city had 165 operating foreign-funded financial institutions, of which 57 had been authorized to deal in Chinese currency. In 2008 the transaction volume of the city's stocks and bonds market reached 27.18 trillion yuan, including 18.04 trillion yuan-worth of securities or 64% of national volume. During the past few years, a growing number of overseas media organizations have established themselves in Shanghai as well. Recent statistics show that 83 foreign news organizations have set up correspondent offices in the city, involving 117 resident journalists (Shanghai Municipal Government, 2010). It is apparent that Shanghai is gaining momentum in attracting multinational corporations (MNCs) and all types of international organization, and is quickly opening up its financial industry to increase its financial leverage in the world market as well.

Comparing Shanghai and Los Angeles, it is interesting to note that the two areas are similar in terms of population size, though Los Angeles has a larger share of the national population. As Table 1 shows, they have both consistently produced around 5% of the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the recent decade. While Los Angeles started in the 1980s with a higher number of MNC headquarters, Shanghai is catching up as a favorable location for these companies. Of course, part of the surge is attributable to the rising power of Chinese MNCs in the global business world. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to Shanghai has tripled over the last decade, now totaling US $10.1 billion, or 10.9% of the national total. Table 2 shows the growing importance of the service sector, especially high-end professional services as represented by finance, insurance and real estate (FIRE) and information, in Shanghai's industrial structure. Employment in the service sector rose from 42% to 55% in less than 10 years. In 2008, 5.6% of the workforce in Shanghai was employed in FIRE industries, more than 7 times the national average. Information-related industries employ about 1.8% of the workforce, almost 9 times the national average.

Table 1. Population and economic statistics for Shanghai and Los Angeles
 ShanghaiChina% ShareLos AngelesUnited States% Share
  • a

    Including headquarters located in cities of Irvine, Burbank, Santa Ana and Los Angeles

  • b

    1 Chinese Yuan = 0.15253 US$ (30 March 2011)

  • Sources: (1) Author's calculation based on data from National Bureau of Statistics of China and US Census Bureau data; (2) 1984 and 1999 data from Sassen (2001), 2010 data from http://CNNMoney.com; (3) Author's calculation based on data from SSB (2000; 2009), National Bureau of Statistics of China and US Bureau of Economic Analysis data

Population (1)       
 198011,463,000987,050,0001.211,497,568226,545,8055.1
 199013,370,0001,143,330,0001.214,531,529248,709,8735.8
 200016,410,0001,267,430,0001.316,373,645281,421,9065.8
 200818,880,0001,328,020,0001.417,786,419304,059,7245.8
No, of Global 500 Headquarters (2)
 1984014
 199902
 20104468.74a1392.9
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (3) Billion Yuanb   Billion US$  
 2001521.010,965.54.8506.510,286.204.9
 20081,407.031,404.54.5717.914,119.05.1
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) (3) Billion US$     
 19993.040.37.6
 200810.192.410.9
Table 2. Total employment and employment in selected industries with location quotient for Shanghai and Los Angeles
 Shanghai%China%LQbLos Angeles%United States%LQb
  • a

    FIRE stands for Finance, Insurance and Real Estate

  • b

    LQ (Location Quotient) is obtained by: industry's share of total employment for Shanghai/industry's share of total employment for China

  • Sources: Author's calculation based on data from SSB (2000; 2009), National Bureau of Statistics of China and US Bureau of Economic Analysis

Year 1999   1999    1999   1999   
 Total employed8,120,900100713,940,000100 8,893,334100162,955,300100 
 Service sector3,421,20042.1192,050,00026.91.67,210,34081.1128,526,30078.91.0
 FIREa182,4002.24,240,0000.63.8783,9468.812,591,3007.71.1
Year 2008   2008    2007   2007   
 Total employed10,532,400100774,800,000100 10,124,670100.0180,943,800100 
 Service sector5,797,00055.0257,170,00033.21.78,643,68185.3149,373,90082.61.0
 FIREa586,6005.65,902,2830.87.31,126,74711.116,572,1009.21.2
 Information190,3001.81,594,9850.28.8316,9243.13,537,0002.01.6

While these figures still lag behind those found in Los Angeles and the United States in general, it does signal Shanghai's rapid transition from a manufacturing-based economy to a service-based one. The growth of the finance and information technology industries is also phenomenal. At the same time, Shanghai is still on the receiving end of global capital and business flows from the industrialized economies, rather than sending financial and economic resources out. But it is a hot spot that global capital and corporations compete to locate in. At the same time, as an important trade port, it has a significant role in connecting hinterland production with international markets. These facts rank it high among investment-receiving cities and demonstrate a steady rise into the global arena. In all, Shanghai is both a mega city with considerable economic presence nationally and regionally, and a strong candidate for world city status in the East Asian camp.

Network society and cyber city

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Globalization and the World City
  5. Network society and cyber city
  6. Social polarization and the dual city
  7. Population/cultural diversity and the hybrid city
  8. Sustainable city
  9. Developmentalist state and urban entrepreneurialism
  10. Conclusion
  11. References

The concept of the network society and cyber city hinge on connectivity, both physical and virtual. Physically, connectivity signifies the importance of transportation and telecommunications in facilitating the flow of goods, people and information (Rimmer, 1998) and intensive production and circulation of information technology in world cities (Sassen, 2001). Virtually, it refers to the new social and spatial forms of communication and transactions brought about by ubiquitous internet access. Termed ‘the city of bits’ (Mitchell, 1995) and the ‘space of information flows’ (Castells, 2000), the cyber city implies connectivity in virtual space or cyberspace, as well as the fragmentation and obsolescence of real urban places. Those cities that concentrate national and regional telecommunications networks emerge as nodal points of global data traffic networks (Moss and Townsend, 2000).

In the physical domain, Shanghai conducted three phases of mega-projects to improve its transportation infrastructure in the 1990s. These projects increased the city's connectivity to the outside world by all available means — road, rail and air — and provided the area with sufficient energy and transport capacity. The city has a well-functioning railway network, the largest port in China, two air hubs (Pudong and Hongqiao) and an expanding highway system. The Shanghai port operates 19 international container shipping routes with more than 500 ports in almost 200 countries around the world. In 2008 it handled 27.98 million TEUs of container space. Shanghai did not yet figure in Rimmer's list of the ‘top 25’ container ports in 1992 (when Los Angeles ranked 8th); by 2008 it had already surpassed Los Angeles as the second largest port for container traffic (Los Angeles is now 16th on the list, with over 7.85 million TEUs) (Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 2009). In addition, Shanghai's Pudong Airport has progressed from being unlisted (see again Rimmer, 1998) in the ‘top 25’ airports for international freight and passengers to being 3rd in total cargo traffic in 2009, while Los Angeles is in 13th place (Airports Council International, 2010). Table 3 lists the detailed rankings for these two cities. Shanghai has also invested heavily in its highway network which greatly improved its freight and passenger transportation capacities.

Table 3. Port and airport capacity and ranking for Shanghai and Los Angeles
 ShanghaiLos Angeles
  1. Sources: (1) Bureau of Transportation Statistics (2009); (2) Airport Council International (2010)

Port Capacity (1) RankTEU (million)RankTEU (million)
 200065.61374.879
 2008227.98167.85
Airport Capacity, Passenger (2) RankVolume (million)RankVolume (million)
 2000>30366.425
 2009>30756.521
Cargo     
 2000>3032.039
 200932.543131.509
Movements     
 2000>3040.783
 2009>3040.634

In the virtual domain, research has estimated that the internet backbone capacity of Los Angeles in 1999 was 14,868 Mbps, or 3.8% of national capacity, ranking it 7th among US metropolitan areas (Moss and Townsend, 2000). These computer-mediated communications and interactions have brought significant changes to business and everyday activities. While Los Angeles fits into the network society image in both dimensions, virtual connectivity is a more distant goal for East Asian cities due to their still industrializing economic structure and the limited popularization of advanced communications and information technologies. However, while the overall backbone capacity of Shanghai still lags far behind Los Angeles and other Western cities, the growth in internet access has been phenomenal. As Table 4 shows, there were 12.5 million internet users in Shanghai in 2009, quadrupling the figure for 2001. In an effort to develop Shanghai into an internet-smart metropolis and better integrate it with the world economy, a 5-year project has been launched to integrate all the circuits and pipelines for telecom services into an underground broadband pipeline (Yusuf and Wu, 2002).

Table 4. Information and Research & Development (R&D) indicators for Shanghai
IndicatorYearGrowth Rate
  1. Sources: (1) SSB (2002; 2010); (2) SSB (2010)

Information Technology (1) 2001 2009 %
 Length of information communication pipelines (km)5505354873.5
 Number of internet users (million)3.112.5303.2
Research and Development Activities (2) 2000 2009 %
 R&D personnel (thousand)63.1144.9129.6
 Expenditure on R&D (billion yuan)7.743.2463.0
 Number of R&D projects (thousand)207512147.3
 Product value of new S&T products (billion yuan)140.2492.0251.0
 Sales revenue of new S&T products (billion yuan)139.9544.3289.2
 Registered patents9,45541,882343.0
 Approved patents6,20835,984479.6

Two other important elements in the configuration of the cyber city are innovation capacity and a technology cluster. Starting from an aerospace-defense industrial base in the early to mid-twentieth century, the Los Angeles area has witnessed a shift so that its high-technology industrial cluster now consists mainly of electronic systems and subsystems manufacturing and is located in the San Fernando Valley and Ventura County (Scott, 1996). The Milken Institute, which publishes the technopole index of US metropolitan areas, reported that in 2007, the Los Angeles metropolitan statistical area (MSA) was ranked 5th among the top 25 high-technology metropolitan areas, and especially listed it as no. 1 for its navigational, measuring and control instruments manufacturing, motion picture and video industries, and other information services (DeVol et al., 2009).

Shanghai is aiming to enhance its innovation capacity and improve the innovative environment in the city to nurture creativity and further promote a knowledge economy. Shanghai boasts 67 institutions of higher education and enrolled 143,497 new students in 2009 alone (SSB, 2010) — which should generate the human capital and technological innovations required to drive and sustain economic development. The creation of several Economic and Technology Development Zones (ETDZs), including the Jingqiao Export Processing Zone, Zhangjiang High-Tech Park, Minhang ETDZ, Hongqiao ETDZ and Caohejing High-Tech Park, also provides tax incentives to high-technology firms. The number of high-tech enterprises grew from 411 in 1995 to 2,303 in 2005. As of 2004, high-technology products comprised about 40% of total exports from Shanghai, compared to 28% for China as a whole (Wu, 2007). As can be seen from Table 4, research and development (R&D) employment, expenditure and projects have all grown substantially in recent years; so has the product value and sales revenue of new science and technology (S&T) products. Total patents registered and approved in the city in 2009 were 4–5 times their equivalents in 2000. All these signal that a knowledge-intensive economy is emerging in Shanghai. Though physical connectivity is more evident than virtual connectivity for the time being, the latter is quickly gaining momentum as well.

Social polarization and the dual city

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Globalization and the World City
  5. Network society and cyber city
  6. Social polarization and the dual city
  7. Population/cultural diversity and the hybrid city
  8. Sustainable city
  9. Developmentalist state and urban entrepreneurialism
  10. Conclusion
  11. References

Globalization and economic restructuring are reconfiguring the socio-economic structure of cities all over the world. It is well documented that there is a diverging trend of socio-economic attainment among urban populations in large metropolitan areas in the US, Los Angeles included. Evidence from the Multi-City Survey of Urban Inequality in the four cities of Atlanta, Boston, Detroit and Los Angles indicates increasing socio-economic inequality in education, employment and income (O'Connor et al., 2001). Social polarization results partly from a post-Fordist service-based urban economy with shrinking employment in the manufacturing sector and employment concentrations at both ends of the skills spectrum, which enlarges the income gap between workers with different skill sets. At the same time, the spatial decentralization of employment and the relative residential immobility of minority populations also create urban inequality along spatial and racial/ethnic lines, as the Spatial Mismatch Hypothesis contends (Kain, 1968). Residential segregation and such labor market hardship result in the concentration of poverty within certain central city neighborhoods (Wilson, 1987).

While cities in East Asia experience a similar type of social polarization in a period of economic restructuring, other forms of dualism also emerge in these cities given their different national and urban contexts. Shanghai is no exception. Shanghai has witnessed a growth in the service sector's share in the urban economy in recent years, as revealed in Table 2. An increasingly service-intensive and technology-intensive economy widens the ‘digital divide’ between the high-skilled and low-skilled, the haves and have-nots. Social stratification and socio-economic structure are not only shaped by economic forces but also driven by state policies. Specifically, open-door policies have created a high-end social stratum composed of employees in joint ventures; the loosening of the hukou (resident registration) system has invited in labor migrants who form a low-end marginalized social stratum; and economic liberalization, the downsizing of state-owned-enterprises (SOEs) and the emergence of a non-state sector have yielded a large number of laid-off workers who form the new urban poor (Li and Wu, 2006). Thus, a three-tier urban labor market and social structure has been formed. While the income of the top 10% was 2.5 times that of the lowest 10% in 1990, that figure had risen 4.2 times in 2000, mainly due to the rapid growth of the high-income bracket (author's calculation based on SSB, 2001). Such disparity in social status and income has also translated into housing inequality and spatial segregation, with poor workers left in dilapidated inner-city public housing, the rich migrating to new suburban housing areas, and the rural migrants finding accommodation in urban villages on the fringe of the city (Li and Wu, 2008). A similar pattern of social polarization and residential segregation is also found in Hong Kong (Forrest et al., 2004).

Occupational segregation and earnings disparity across the various industries and different types of ventures have widened as well. Table 5 shows average annual earnings in selected industries for Shanghai and Los Angeles between 2001 and 2008 (or 2009). Ratios of these industry-specific earnings to manufacturing earnings are also calculated as a way of demonstrating the relative growth of compensation across industries. Earnings in manufacturing are chosen as the benchmark as manufacturing jobs are considered stable semi-skilled jobs in most societies. Typical of people with low-skilled jobs, workers in the leisure and hospitality industries earn on average around 60% of the pay of manufacturing workers in both cities. Salaries in the financial industry, as typical high-skilled jobs, paid about 1.5 times the earnings of manufacturing jobs in Los Angeles through the decade. In Shanghai, however, the ratio increased from 1.6 in 2001 to 3.8 in 2008. Such substantive growth in the payoff to high-skilled occupations compared with other jobs, partly explains the ongoing socio-economic bifurcation in Shanghai.

Table 5. Average annual earnings for selected industries and ratio to manufacturing earnings for Shanghai and Los Angeles
 ShanghaiRatioaLos AngelesRatioa
Average Annual Earnings (yuan)Average Annual Earnings (US$)b
  • a

    Ratio is obtained by: earnings in each industry/earnings in manufacturing

  • b

    Earnings are obtained by: average weekly wage x 52 weeks per year

  • Sources: Author's calculation based on data from SSB (2002, 2009) and US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Year 2001   2001  
 Construction18,4290.940,9761.0
 Manufacturing20,3551.040,6121.0
 Information29,8341.572,9041.8
 Financial Industries33,3431.661,5161.5
 Leisure & Hospitality12,5980.625,2720.6
Year 2008   2009  
 Construction33,3320.953,6641.0
 Manufacturing35,4141.055,7441.0
 Information66,7631.991,5201.6
 Financial Industries133,2973.875,1921.3
 Leisure & Hospitality24,1240.732,1360.6

Two other types of dualism are also manifested in Shanghai. One is what Castells termed ‘global connectedness and local disconnectedness’ (2000: 436). Much of Shanghai's new development and infrastructure construction is geared to inviting foreign investment and technology transfers, rather than fulfilling local residents' needs. The interweaving of — and sometimes the rivalry between — extraverted and introverted city functions generates a dual and segmented urban landscape. The other mismatch is on the macro scale between a relatively developed urban center and its large hinterland and rural areas. Economic prosperity in Shanghai is not representative of conditions in the vast rural areas of China, and the urban poor in Shanghai are not comparable to rural residents either, as is the case for other developing countries (National Research Council, 2003). One reason for Shanghai's success was the central government's preferential policies at the beginning of the reform period to encourage ‘getting rich’ by a small number of people and places. Shanghai was one of the pilot cases that set an example to the rest of the country. It has great policy autonomy in both the political and economic realms (Wu, 2003b). However, the ultimate goal of socialism is equality and prosperity for all. How to balance the development gap between a few fast-growing large cities (including Shanghai) and a lagging hinterland is an important question going forward into the future and one that will affect Shanghai's long-term economic sustainability.

Population/cultural diversity and the hybrid city

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Globalization and the World City
  5. Network society and cyber city
  6. Social polarization and the dual city
  7. Population/cultural diversity and the hybrid city
  8. Sustainable city
  9. Developmentalist state and urban entrepreneurialism
  10. Conclusion
  11. References

The last two concepts, the hybrid city and the sustainable city, are not yet critical elements in portraying the urban experiences of East Asian cities, given their stage of development. Nonetheless, they are gradually gaining importance. International migration theories suggest that world population flow normally originates in less-developed economies and moves to developed economies as people seek better returns on their human capital. As a result, the phenomena of tremendous immigrant inflow and subsequent demographic diversity and dynamism that characterize immigrant gateway cities like Los Angeles have not yet been replicated in Shanghai. Statistics show that the proportion of the Latino population in the Los Angeles MSA rose from 33% in 1990 to 40% in 2000, while the Asian population rose from less than 9% to over 10% in the same period. Whites now represent less than half the urban population, creating a ‘minority majority’ metropolis (data from Myers, 1999 and author's calculations based on the 2000 Census). Immigrant neighborhoods have been formed from the city center to the suburban areas including Korean town, Pico Union (Latino-concentrated), Alhambra and Monterey Park (Asian-concentrated). They have substantially transformed the urban landscape in many communities (Li, 1998; Logan et al., 2002). An informal and underground economy has also emerged, consisting of undocumented immigrants.

Having been one of the first cities in China to open its doors to Western settlement, Shanghai has a long history of accepting foreigners and domestic migrants from other parts of China. Shanghai in the 1920s was described as ‘a meeting ground for people from all countries, a great and a unique city, one of the most remarkable in the world’ (Pott, 1928: 1). By 1942, around 150,000 foreign migrants lived in the city (Cheng, 1999). While demographic diversity due to international migration and internal mobility subsided in the second half of the twentieth century, it resumed towards the century's end. FDI inflow and foreign-invested enterprises brought about a new surge of foreign expatriates and overseas labor. Preferential policies were also extended to overseas Chinese to encourage them to return to Shanghai to work and establish their own businesses. In 2000 there were 60,020 foreign residents in Shanghai; this figure had risen to 100,011 in 2005. Of these, 60% were employees of foreign-invested firms and their family members (SSB, 2006). These residents form a segmented upper class that does not substantially confront local identities. There does exist, however, a hybridization of cultures: local and global, historical and modern, indigenous and imported. The outcome has been the formation of a multicultural metropolis of Shanghai that strives to incorporate global cultures while maintaining its historical roots as a Chinese city, creating a unique Shanghai culture that is characterized by cosmopolitanism (Wu, 2004). Residentially, there are foreign enclaves around a number of areas in Shanghai. As a notable example, Gubei New District was developed from the 1980s and gained the nickname of Little United Nations by accommodating citizens from about 30 countries and regions (Wang and Lau, 2008).

Table 6 shows that, in comparison to the over one third of Los Angeles' residents who are foreign-born, Shanghai's less than 1% seems relatively small. But growth trends indicate that immigration to Los Angeles has been fairly stable over the last decade, while it has doubled in Shanghai over the same period. While over half of immigrants to Los Angeles come from only two countries, Mexico and El Salvador, immigrants to Shanghai are more diversified and are mainly drawn from Asia Pacific and the Western world. It can be expected that as the opening-up and liberalization of the economy progress in Shanghai, the number of foreign-born residents, as well as the countries, regions and immigration types they represent, will grow further in the near future. Besides international migration, Shanghai has been accepting a large number of internal migrants, often referred to as the ‘floating population’, or those without hukou (official resident) status. Their share in the total urban population grew from 24% in 2000 to 36% in 2009 (SSB, 2010). Many of them are from rural areas, and they form urban villages or enclaves around the city that exhibit distinctive spatial settlement patterns and exert unique impacts on the urban economy (Wu, 2008).

Table 6. Number and composition of the foreign-born population of Shanghai and Los Angeles
6a No. of foreign residents and % of total population
 ShanghaiLos Angeles
2000%2009a%2000%2006–8 %
 60,0200.4152,0500.83,449,42836.24,394,06834.3
6b Top sending countries/regions and % of total foreign residents
 ShanghaiLos Angeles
2000%2009a%2000%2006–8%
  • a

    In 2009 residents from Taiwan and Hong Kong are not counted as foreign residents

  • b

    Excluding Hong Kong and Taiwan

  • Sources: Author's calculation based on data from SSB (2001; 2010), US Decennial Census 2000 and American Community Survey 2006–08

 1Japan20.4Japan20.7Mexico44.2Mexico42.1
 2Taiwan17.5United States14.0El Salvador7.3El Salvador6.4
 3Australia10.7Rep. of Korea13.6Philippines5.9Philippines6.1
 4United States10.6France4.9Guatemala4.4Korea4.8
 5Hong Kong6.9Germany4.8Korea4.2Vietnam4.8
 6Rep. of Korea5.5Singapore4.7Chinab3.0Guatemala4.0
 7Singapore4.7Canada4.0Vietnam2.8Chinab3.2
 8UK3.9Australia3.5Iran2.7Iran2.9
 9Germany2.5UK3.4Taiwan2.0Taiwan1.9
10Canada2.3  Armenia1.5India1.5

Sustainable city

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Globalization and the World City
  5. Network society and cyber city
  6. Social polarization and the dual city
  7. Population/cultural diversity and the hybrid city
  8. Sustainable city
  9. Developmentalist state and urban entrepreneurialism
  10. Conclusion
  11. References

Sustainability, broadly defined, is a harmonious relationship between the economy, the environment and social justice (Campbell, 1999). Urban areas across the world are faced with an alarming array of environmental issues, ranging from pollution and climate change to the depletion of natural resources and biodiversity. Four perspectives on environmental politics are provided by Harvey (1996) and summarized by Dear (2000): (1) environmental management in the form of government-mandated regulatory frameworks and corrective interventions; (2) ecological modernization, which is the proactive, prevention-oriented approach to addressing environmental concerns; (3) ‘wise use’ in private property arrangements to protect against environmental abuse; and (4) environmental justice, a movement to minimize the uneven geographical distribution of environmental harm, especially to avoid the overt environmental burden on poor and disadvantaged neighborhoods associated with development. Some environmental justice issues arise from the construction of transportation systems and other development projects around low-income and inner-city communities, creating ‘hot spots’ with high pollution levels (Bae, 2004).

The leapfrog urban development pattern that results in decentralized urban forms and edgeless cities can be most vividly seen in Los Angeles, which is known as the ‘most sprawling metropolis’ in the United States (Giuliano and Small, 1991; Giuliano et al., 2007). At the same time, the unique topological features and sociopolitical landscape of LA also expose its residents to an ‘ecology of fear’ of all types of disasters: earthquakes, floods, fires and riots (Davis, 1999). All these call for more environmentally conscious and ecologically sensitive development planning. While raising the environmental problematic in world cities, Keil (1995) cited a final report that was drafted in 1988 by the Los Angeles 2000 Committee, a citizen task-force established by Mayor Tom Bradley. It identified ‘environmental quality’ as one of its major goals: ‘A city that recognizes the interrelations of environmental and economic issues and follows specific strategies for preserving its fragile eco-system while achieving a healthful physical environment and a vibrant economy’ (Los Angeles 2000 Committee, 1988: 13).

Indeed, increasing concerns over ‘urban ecological security’ (UES) has propelled cities around the world to develop environmental strategies to cope with growth under resource constraint and climate change. The tendency to ‘re-internalize’ and ‘re-localize’ water and energy provision and waste management within urban systems and to withdraw from reliance on regional and national infrastructural systems can be seen from New York to Melbourne (Hodson and Marvin, 2009). Interestingly, one of the few social experiments in the world to construct an eco-city in the strict sense is taking place in Dongtan, Shanghai. This island at the mouth of Yangtze River seeks to generate all of its energy needs from renewable sources, including biofuels, wind farms and photovoltaic panels, and aims to create a zero-carbon development model. The Dongtan model is being replicated elsewhere in the world as well. While the plausibility of a self-sufficient eco-system at the local level can be debated, these experiments do show the Shanghai government's growing consciousness of such concepts as the green city and the sustainable city.

For a time the environmental and social aspects of development were neglected in Shanghai as economic growth overshadowed everything else. In Shanghai the outward-tending and fragmented land development pattern has also resulted in a spatially dispersed urban structure of residential and industrial locations. Using various microdata sources for 2000–01, Glaeser and Kahn (2008) ranked ‘green cities’ in the United States based on estimated carbon dioxide emissions per household from driving, public transportation, electricity and heating. Los Angeles is estimated to produce 39,543lbs annual standardized household CO2 emissions. Applying essentially the same methodology to rank the greenness of Chinese cities, Zheng et al. (2009) estimated that in 2006 Shanghai produced 1.796 tons, or 3,958lbs annual standardized household CO2 emissions. While Shanghai's current emission level appears to be only about one tenth of the level of Los Angeles, with rapid population growth and a surge in private auto usage, environmental issues are already a high priority on the city's development agenda.

The Shanghai municipal government became aware of the issue and has taken substantial steps to address environmental concerns over the past 10–20 years. During this period Shanghai has achieved dramatic progress in pollution control and environmental protection. Most notably, the city has cleaned up the main sections of Suzhou Creek and improved the water quality of the main body of the Huangpu River as well. The city's green area has also increased recently. In 2000 alone, 30 large greenbelts were created, each covering more than 3,000 square meters, and 7 new parks were opened (Yang, 2002). Shanghai recently launched the Environmentally Friendly City initiative with the support of UNDP. It has forged an environment strategy that encompasses six sectors: water, air, noise, solid waste, radiation and ecology conservation.

Developmentalist state and urban entrepreneurialism

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Globalization and the World City
  5. Network society and cyber city
  6. Social polarization and the dual city
  7. Population/cultural diversity and the hybrid city
  8. Sustainable city
  9. Developmentalist state and urban entrepreneurialism
  10. Conclusion
  11. References

One specific feature of the urban development process in East Asian cities has been the significant role played by their developmentalist states and local governments in actively pushing cities to achieve world city status. East Asian governments, it is argued, intentionally promote a remaking of key city regions into world cities, termed ‘intentional world cities’ by Douglass (2000 : 2322), through infrastructure investment, policymaking, and competition to host international events. One manifestation of these place-making efforts in the built environment is the skyscraper-dotted urban landscape in these cities. These ‘prestige buildings’ rise over the skyline to serve as physical symbols of the status of the developer, or of the city and nation in general (Marcotullio, 2003).

Los Angeles has been used as an example of urban entrepreneurialism and a growth coalition in urban development in the United States (Logan and Molotch, 1987; Harvey, 1989). The growth machine theory implies a partnership between real estate developers and urban politicians in pursuing local development. An entrepreneurial city is described as a city or region that acts like an enterprise and engages in place-based strategic promotion. This phenomenon has been examined in the Asia Pacific context (Olds, 1995; Jessop and Sum, 2000). While the Shanghai municipal government and various district governments proactively involve themselves in place-promoting activities to increase the competitiveness of their city, this is different from the direct pursuit of economic interests through rent-seeking and thus distinguishes itself from the activities of an entrepreneurial city in the strict sense. Rather, state intervention in economic spheres is strong in Shanghai, as well as in other newly industrialized economies like Japan and Korea (Wu, 2003b).

China's initiation of a ‘reform and open-up’ policy in the late 1970s and, in particular, the central government's designation of Pudong New Area in Shanghai in the early 1990s have spurred the city's rapid development since then. The central government's political will and institutional arrangements ensured that disproportionate resources would be directed towards Shanghai to facilitate its rise onto the world stage. This input is composed of both financial backup and preferential policies. The local municipal authorities have taken on this task and have gone all out to create a favorable environment and efficient mechanisms to attract global business, capital and technology. The land-leasing system in Shanghai also grants important land-leasing power to the municipality, as the most powerful manager of state land, and a partner in real estate development (Wu, 2010). As a matter of fact, Shanghai municipality has made ‘making Shanghai a global city’ an explicit policy goal: to build the city into one of the economic, finance, trade and shipping centers in the world and a socialist modern international metropolis by 2020.

In sum, in the socialist polity of China, centralized governance and a strong political will are driving the development of Shanghai and directing its local response to globalization — something that is not commonly found in Western cities. Also, the planning process in Shanghai is still largely scientific and top-down with limited grassroots public participation. Globalization is mediated through a developmentalist state when it penetrates the urban fabric of Shanghai. The municipal government of Shanghai has taken a proactive role in urban growth through such strategies as the designation of development zones, preferential treatment of investors, land-leasing instruments and key infrastructure projects (Wu, 2003a; 2003b). The urban governance that is characterized by a strong mayoral leadership has played instrumental roles in various projects ranging from transportation to housing relocation and inner-city redevelopment.

Place promotion and entrepreneurial discourse are also evidenced by the hosting of numerous international high-profile conferences and mega-events. In 2008 the city hosted 294 exhibitions, involving a total floor area of almost 6 million square meters and attracting 8.3 million visitors, including 620,100 from overseas (Shanghai Municipal Government, 2010). The most recent such event was the Shanghai Expo, which was attended by 246 countries and international organizations. As of 2 October 2010, close to 60 million visitors have been attracted to the event and the prolonged attention and the financial, economic, cultural and other hidden benefits that the city may reap are immeasurable at the moment. Shanghai has made ‘Better City, Better Life’ the theme of this expo. It is the first in the world that holds high an urban banner. It marks the urbanization process that is rampant in the world on the one hand, and, on the other, is a sign of the very cosmopolitanism that the city champions and actually represents.

Conclusion

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Globalization and the World City
  5. Network society and cyber city
  6. Social polarization and the dual city
  7. Population/cultural diversity and the hybrid city
  8. Sustainable city
  9. Developmentalist state and urban entrepreneurialism
  10. Conclusion
  11. References

This article has examined the five key urban dynamics proposed by the LA school of urbanism: world city, cyber city, dual city, hybrid city and sustainable city (Dear, 2005) against the East Asian urban context in general, and that of the city of Shanghai in particular. While the mega cities in this region are struck by the same forces of globalization, economic restructuring and advances in information technology as cities in the Western world, their resultant urban forms and processes are somewhat different given their historical paths and local specificities along a variety of dimensions. It cannot be denied, however, that the five paradigms remain fairly valid and the dynamics likewise remain comparable when globalization takes place in newly industrialized economies, though their implications and manifestations vary. This article has also put forward the concept of the developmentalist state to complement those five pillars as an equally important factor when reading these cities in urban comparative analysis. Evidence gathered from Seoul (Hill and Kim, 2000), Hong Kong (Forrest et al., 2004) and Taipei (Wang, 2003) all points to the fact that East Asian cities have not experienced the severe manufacturing decline or extensive foreign immigration seen in Western cities, but rather emphasizes the influence of state-level forces in addition to market forces, and the unique institutional and historical contexts of these cities.

Based on detailed comparative analysis of a wide range of urban empirics, several observations emerge regarding those five urban paradigms. In the East Asian case, the term ‘world city’ can be modified to ‘mega city’ or ‘globalizing city’ to denote a process of becoming. The ‘cyber city’ in the East Asian context is more about the physical networks connecting people, goods, and information, and less about virtual space, though internet use and a knowledge-based innovation system have grown rapidly. The ‘dual city’ and social segmentation are a result of enlarging income disparity across the occupational and skills spectrum and are shaped by institutional frameworks as well as economic forces. They exist on three scales: intra-urban; local–global; and local–national. The ‘hybrid city’ and racial/ethnic diversity are less of an issue in this case, though the size of the foreign-born population has been rising steadily and internal migration is high. The ‘sustainable city’ has recently received attention on the development agenda with eco-city and green-city experiments being conducted and objectives established. Finally, given the significant role governments play in these cities and their central-to-periphery control structure, the notion of the developmentalist state comes into play. This broadened urban framework explicitly takes into account the urban experiences in this region, and further extends the scope of comparative urban analysis both spatially and temporally beyond the Western world.

Robinson (2002: 536) advocated ‘a view from off the (global/world city) map’, stressing the need to construct an alternative urban theory that reflects the experiences of a much wider range of cities to ‘fill in the voids’ of the world city map, and provides some alternative research approaches that are aimed toward (currently peripheral) developing countries and transition economies — the ordinary city theory. While this analysis does show the unique conditions existing in a group of cities in East Asian transition economies, it also establishes the relative validity of the five urban paradigms derived from the LA School in gauging their urban growth. Admitting their diverse urban experiences does not automatically diminish the merits of comparative analysis or the importance of common dialogue across different regions. If one goes beyond a stereotypical understanding of these five paradigms, they serve as a useful framework of analysis with varied applicability to Shanghai and other East Asian cities. It is also worth noting that such a dialogue engages and enriches urban theorization on both sides. The ultimate goal of this study is not just to test the LA model against other cities, but to initiate a useful framework that urban inquiry can build upon. Through the comparison between Shanghai and Los Angeles, this article also shows the possibility of comparative urban analysis between the East and West and calls for more research of this nature in the future. When urban development is viewed as a process, not an end result, the motto ‘better city, better life’ can then be envisioned and realized in different forms across the world.

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  3. Introduction
  4. Globalization and the World City
  5. Network society and cyber city
  6. Social polarization and the dual city
  7. Population/cultural diversity and the hybrid city
  8. Sustainable city
  9. Developmentalist state and urban entrepreneurialism
  10. Conclusion
  11. References
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