- Forces of agglomeration: Allen Scott's The Cultural Economy of Cities revisited
- Built Environment
- Pages (from-to)
- Issue number
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
Sometime in the 1980s, it became obvious that cities in the West were undergoing some fundamental changes. Deindustrialization had more or less run its course in many cities in developed countries. In quite a few cases, however, urban economies were growing again - this time driven by a whole set of economic activities different from large-scale manufacturing. At first, researchers often focused on service activities, notably producer services (especially financial services) as drivers of the urban renaissance. In his book The Cultural Economy of Cities, Allen Scott, however, not only broadened the scope, but altered the way the new urban economy should be conceptualized by focusing on cultural industries: those economic activities in which the exchange value of their products are to a large extent determined by the aesthetic or semiotic content. In addition, he presented a firmly grounded analysis both of why these industries were emerging as engines of urban growth and why they were strongly oriented towards urban milieux. By posing that the underlying operating principles in cultural industries are quite similar to those in other knowledge-intensive industries and in financial industries, he could use a sophisticated theory of agglomeration economies in which small series, volatility of demand, vertical disintegration, innovation, knowledge exchange, and spatial proximity are woven seamlessly together. Allen Scott - from his vantage point in Los Angeles, a global cultural industries powerhouse - displayed not just a sensitivity and open-mindedness towards the social reality around him, but was also able to embed his observations within a much broader theoretical framework which aims to explain how changes in the economic structure of contemporary cities are related to certain spatial patterns, and how this is linked to the emerging global division of labour. He thus changed the way - certainly for me - cities should be looked at.
If you believe that digital publication of certain material infringes any of your rights or (privacy) interests, please let the Library know, stating your reasons. In case of a legitimate complaint, the Library will make the material inaccessible and/or remove it from the website. Please Ask the Library, or send a letter to: Library of the University of Amsterdam, Secretariat, Singel 425, 1012 WP Amsterdam, The Netherlands. You will be contacted as soon as possible.