ISSJ - N° 181 - Mega-cities

September 2004

Editorial adviser : Mattei Dogan

The future of humanity will, for the most part, be urban. And urban management, which is difficult enough as it is, faces the emergence of metropolises on a scale unprecedented in human history. Around 1900, there were a dozen cities in the world with populations greater than one million. Today, 28 conurbations exceed the usual, rather arbitrary, threshold of 8 millions that serves to define a « mega-city ». From the large city to the mega-city, there is a quantum leap rather than a difference of degree. Whether the concern is spatial planning, waste management, collective infrastructure, or transport, the solutions appropriate to a mega-city cannot just be scaled up from those – imperfect as they are – designed for an implemented in less gigantic urban units. There is also a need to understand the place of mega-cities within a world social, political and economic system into which, it seems, states and nations are finding it ever harder to fit. Furthermore, the fact that most mega-cities are to be found in the developing world and that their growth is extraordinarily rapid places enormous strain on administrative capacities, physical infrastructures and environmental resources that are often exceedingly fragile. Yet, the reality of mega-cities is poorly known since, in addition to the speed of their transformations, they remain remarkably difficult to apprehend in statistical terms. This issue proposes to take stock of mega-cities and of their distinctive features, taking account both of their position in world systems and networks and of their internal dynamics and problems, and to sketch on this basis some perspectives for innovative research.

Table of Contents

Editorial adviser : Mattei Dogan

Mattei Dogan:Introduction : Four hundred giant cities atop the world

Peter J. Taylor:Regionality in the world city network

Richard Child Hill:Cities and nested hierarchies
Ivan Light Immigration and ethnic economies in giant cities

David A. Smith:Global cities in East Asia: empirical and conceptual analysis

Vladimir Kolossov & John O’Loughlin: How Moscow is becoming a capitalist mega-city

Open Forum
Irving Louis Horowitz: Two cultures of science: the limits of positivism

Luc Reginensi: On the status of logic in Piaget

Charlie Galibert:Some preliminary notes on actor-observer anthropology

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