How does a city’s position in the modern global urban system affect processes producing, and patterns of, inequality? Give examples from the ‘developed’ and ‘lesser developed’ worlds.
In the developed world, region-cities have a lesser degree of inequality within the population than those in lesser developed nations. This is due to government and financial regulations that control growth, and, to a degree, business practices that would harm its citizens financial well being. Countries that occupy a higher ranking in the modern global urban system, such as the United States, the UK and other European nations have financial systems that have had time to become mature and robust. Failed policies have paved the way to more secure policies that are less vulnerable to collapse. In city-regions of these countries, such as Tokyo and New York, the effects of globalization are less stratified though more-so than in non urbanized centers.
In lesser developed nations, financial systems are still relatively new, having emerged with the advent of neoliberal globalization, and are thus more vulnerable to manipulation in favor or foreign interests. They are also more vulnerable to collapse. Region-cities that fall into this category show a more stratified distribution of wealth, one that is favorable to the financial investment interests. Examples of these city-regions include Accra and Mumbai in Africa (Grant and Nijman, 2002, p. 320-1)
A countries political power also plays a major part in whether or not its financial structure is recognized. The U.S. financial interests are backed by the strong arm of the American government. Thus, financial doors are typically opened wide for U.S. investors and capitalists. It is not, however, often the other way around. Lesser developed nations which lack a strong military arm and political power often give up their sovereignty due to political pressure. Just how a nation fares in the face of neoliberal globalization thus lies in its position within the international power structure as well as the strength of its financial system.
Is increasing urban inequality a necessary outcome of globalization? Why or why not?
The idea that increasing urban inequality is a necessary outcome of globalization is ingrained in the literature yet it does not seem to have to necessarily be. If the transnational financial systems were under some sort of regulatory control, it would be easier to ensure that special interests were not being met at the expense of the welfare of the nations people. The fact that these systems are not under regulatory control has allowed them to reach the highly stratified structure that associated with city regions of both lesser developed nations developed nations.
Inequality is due to the financial structures which are created in the best interests of those that control them, the foreign interests and transnational corporations. “Global markets are…by no means beyond regulation and control, even though the current scope and objectives of economic governance are limited by the divergent interests of the great powers and the economic doctrines prevalent among their elites (Hirst and Thompson, 2000, p.69).” A new economic structure could be introduced through globalization that brings prosperity to a nations people as well as profits to corporations. There is no reason why inequality must be a part of globalization and urban growth. However, under the current scheme, it is more often the case that stratification is introduced and vast inequality is the result.