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Journal of Planning Literature
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DOI: 10.1177/0885412203257693
2003 18: 111 Journal of Planning Literature
Rafael E. Pizarro, Liang Wei and Tridib Banerjee
Agencies of Globalization and Third World Urban Form: A Review

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10.1177/0885412203257693 ARTICLE Journal of Planning Literature Agencies of Globalization
Agencies of Globalization
and Third World Urban
Form: A Review
Rafael E. Pizarro
Liang Wei
Tridib Banerjee
This article proposes a theoretical framework to examine the
effects of globalization on urban form and urbanism in the
third world. Toward developing such a framework, the
authors conceptualize globalizationas the removal of political
and physical barriers for the free movement of capital, people,
information, and culture among nations and propose that the
removal of such barriers have consequences on the cities of the
third world. These consequences, the authors suggest, are
expressed in the configuration of urban space, urban form,
and urbanism in the third world. The authors look at those
four agencies of globalization (movement of capital, people,
information, and culture) and their effects. The goal of the
article is to offer a critical framework for reviewing contempo-
rary literature onglobalizationand third world urbanform.
Keywords: globalization; urban form; urbanism; Third World
When we began the background research for this
article, we had no idea, nor could anyone anticipate,
that on September 11, 2001, violent reactionary forces
wouldmake a devastating political statement about the
unresolved conflicts and contradictions of the modern
worldbyreducinga significant component of the urban
form of lower Manhattan to mere rubbles. In some
ways, the attack on the World Trade Center was a tragic
but telling assertion of fundamental cultural conflicts
and tensions that continue to fester as the globalization
juggernaut rolls on. Indeed, there is much to be said
about the bright side of globalization that is uplifting,
liberating, modernizing, secularizing, and empower-
ing. But there is also the darkside that manifests itself in
exacerbating poverty, deprivation, inequality, political
oppression, gender abuse, and cultural and religious
tensions (see Mendieta 2001). Benjamin Barbers book
Jihad vs. McWorld (1995) has aptly captured some of
these tensions. Much has been written in recent years
that takes a critical look at various effects of globaliza-
tion and its discontents (see Barber 2000; Sassen 1998).
In this article, we focus on a particular outcome of glob-
RAFAEL E. PIZARRO is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Policy,
Planning, and Development at the University of Southern Califor-
nia. He is currently a research fellow in the Observatorio del Caribe
Colombiano in Cartagena, Colombia, and adjunct faculty in the
School of Architecture and Urbanismat the UniversidadJorge Tadeo
Lozano in the same city. He is a coeditor of the book Southern Cali-
fornia and the World (Greenwood, 2002).
LIANG WEI is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Policy, Plan-
ning, and Development at the University of Southern California.
Her current research focuses on immigration and urban housing.
TRIDIB BANERJEE is a professor in the School of Policy, Plan-
ning, and Development at the University of Southern California,
where he holds a James Irvine Chair of Urban and Regional
Journal of PlanningLiterature, Vol. 18, No. 2(November2003).
DOI: 10.1177/0885412203257693
Copyright 2003 by Sage Publications
alization in the developing world: its effects on the
changing urban form and landscape of cities. As plan-
ners and urban designers, we have both a vested inter-
est and an ethical responsibility to be aware of this
dynamic and to inform the future practice of urban
design and planning.
The aim of this article is to begin a discourse on the
effects of globalizationonurbanformbyofferinga criti-
cal framework for reviewing literature and cataloging
relevant concepts. To this end, we lookedat what the lit-
erature on postcolonial studies, political economy in
the thirdworld, dependencytheory, worldsystems the-
ory, postmodernity, andplanning inthe thirdworldhas
to say about the effects of globalization in the urban
form of third world cities. As this review will suggest,
although there is much that is written on the subject of
globalization and its causes and consequences, the
materials on urban form and urbanism are still some-
what limited, or speculative at best. We hope that this
review will help identify areas for future studies,
doctoral dissertations, and scholarly writings.
Inframing this review, we construct a matrix consist-
ingof various components of urbanformandglobaliza-
tion. To a large extent, the dimensions of this matrix are
a function of the comprehensive scope of the literature
on globalization included in our review. Of necessity,
we have used a more expansive notion of urban form,
for example, thantypicallyusedinthe fields of architec-
ture, planning, and urban design. We submit that it is
necessary to consider the notion of urban form as more
than just the three-dimensional built form of a city or a
metropolis. We must also consider the experiential,
social, and political manifestations of urban form that,
in fact, may elude the more palpable notions of urban
form as commonly defined (cf. Raban 1988; Banerjee
and Verma 2001). Unless we use such an inclusive
framework, we run the risk of excluding significant lit-
erature sources that offer newinsights about globaliza-
tion, which is, by all reckoning, a multidimensional
phenomenon, leading to multi- and interdisciplinary
writings. Accordingly, we define the concept of urban
form in terms of seven components, which, in a rough
hierarchy of general to specific, could be listed as fol-
lows: (1) overall urbanism, (2) identity and image, (3)
spatial configuration of cities, (4) social ecology, (5)
dynamics of public realm, (6) scale andpace of develop-
ment, and (7) architectural vernacular. When we dis-
cuss urbanism of cities, we mean those nonphysical
dimensions of the city generally associated with the
quality of urban life but also with the activities of think-
ingabout, andplanningof, cities. The definitionoffered
inthe AmericanHeritage College Dictionary, thirdedition,
(1993) comes close to the way we use the word: The
culture or way of life of city dwellers. We also propose
that the essence of globalization could be defined as the
unrestricted movements of money, people, informa-
tion, and cultureand their agency effects. Thus, the
combination of the four agencies of globalization and
their effects on those seven components of urban form
helps develop an organizational matrix to map the
relevant literature (see Table 1) on the consequences of
globalization on urban form and urbanism of the third
We propose that the construct of urban form can be
seen as having several operational dimensions. These
categories are derivedfroma rather extensive literature
on urban form, which, of course, remains beyond the
scope of this review. We will only refer to a few perti-
nent references relevant to various categories. The first
dimension we propose has to do with urbanism, that is,
the human life experience, activity patterns, social
milieu, and the pace of life of a city, or what Milgram
(1970) has called the atmosphere of a city. In a way,
this dimension may seem more elusive and evanes-
cent (according to Milgram) than the previous ones
since it concerns the softer, albeit no less real, sense of
urban form (see, e.g., Raban 1988). The second dimen-
sion we propose has to do with the qualitative aspects
of urban formimages and identitiesas discussed in
the earlier works of Lynch(1960) andAppleyard(1976),
and more recently in the works of Sandercock (1998)
and Tajbaksh (2001). The third dimension is that of the
spatial organization (radial, grid, etc.), density gradi-
ents, and patterns (monocentric, polycentric, sprawl,
compact city, etc.) that are commonly used to describe
the three-dimensional urban form (see, e.g., Lynch
[1954] 1990). The fourth dimension concerns the distri-
bution of different population groups in space and the
112 Journal of Planning Literature
TABLE 1. Globalization and Urban Form
Agencies of Globalization
Aspects of Discourse
on Urban Form Capital People Information Culture
Image and identity
Spatial organization
and structure
Social ecology
Public realm
Scale and pace of
attendant mix, separation, exclusion, and segregation
(Sennett 1971). The fifth dimension of urban form com-
prises public space and the public realmthe supply,
distribution, configurations, and openness of public
spaces and how they might be changing (Banerjee
2001). Another dimension of urban formhas to do with
the grain, texture, and scale of new developments and
additions to the physical city (see Lynch and Rodwin
[1958] 1990). Finally, vernacular architecture and con-
temporary changes help define the visual form of the
cityscape andcanbe seenas still another descriptor (see
Kostof 1991). The second, third, andthe last two dimen-
sions of this schema implicitly include qualities of
urban form that might be derived from the historical
legacy of a city.
Globalization is a process. It is at once transitional
and transcendental. It is a condition of flux rather than
stasis. It replaces certainty, stability, order, and equilib-
rium with uncertainty, instability, disorder, and dis-
equilibrium. It is a process that can be described in
terms of flows, networks, capacities, distributions, dif-
fusions, and movements. We can think of carriers, con-
veyors, andconduits, touse mechanical metaphors, but
also, and probably more relevant to us, such systemic
concepts as media, matrix, vectors, and agencies.
Although these movements are commonly defined in
the literature as flows, we have chosen to rename
themas agencies (as in human agency) because we
feel this term more fairly represents their true nature.
That is, they are not a smooth stream of money, people,
information, or culture circulating evenly with unbro-
ken continuity back and forth between nations but
rather the result of specific forces set in motion by iden-
tifiable actors in specific geographic areas who use
those agents to obtain specificalthough sometimes
unintendedresults in the receiving culture, society, or
We realize, however, that framing globalization
within a particular time bracket could be problematic.
So we note at the outset that by globalization, we are
primarily, but not exclusively, focusing on the later part
of the previous (the twentieth) century marked by the
expansion of a global economy, a concomitant revolu-
tion of the information andcommunicationtechnology,
and exploding international immigration. Some
observers of globalization argue that the world was
actually more integrated (hence globalized) during
the late colonial periodthanit is today. Heldet al. (1999)
refer to the proponents of this view as the sceptics,
including such authors as Chase-Dunn (1989) and
Frank and Gills (1993). We should note parenthetically
that recent subaltern deconstruction of the colonial his-
toriography seems to contest the claim of such
integration (see, e.g., Wright 1991; Yeoh 1996; elik
1997; as well as Said 1979, 1993; Guha 1997; Guha and
Spivack1988). Furthermore, Heldet al. (1999) alsoiden-
tify a transformationalist view, according to which a
radical break with a certain past took place in the 1970s
and 1980s when there was a definitive shift from an
international to a global economy (see also Barnet
and Mller 1974). This group of authors, including
Castells (1996), Harvey (1989), Giddens (1990), and
Amin and Thrift (1992), argue that true globalization
started in the 1980s with the time-space compression
brought about bythe fusionof telecommunications and
information technologies (see also Hoogvelt [1978]
2001). Nevertheless, some of the current effects of glob-
alization on urban form have parallels in the colonial
influences of an earlier era, and as we will discuss later,
some of the studies focusing on that period might be
relevant even today, subaltern views of integration
We propose that urbanformandurbanismoutcomes
can be best seen as resulting fromfour agencies of glob-
alization: capital, population, information, and culture.
We consider these agencies subsuming such other
aspects of globalization as politics, technology, and
institutions, which are also the focus of inquiry in some
of the writings onglobalization. The preeminence of the
transnational corporations, restructuring of the inter-
national financial system, and the globalization of
propertymarkets are some examples of agencies of cap-
ital (see Olds 2001). International migration and labor
mobility, and accelerated urbanization involving rural-
urban migration resulting from economic restructur-
ing, are some of the examples of the agencies involving
populations. Development and dissemination of infor-
mation and communication technologies such as cell
phones, satellite dishes, and Internet connection can be
seenas agencies of information. And, finally, the spread
of popular media suchas television, cinema, music, and
documentaries canbe understoodas agencies of culture
(see, e.g., Castells 1996; Jameson 1997). Today, cities
themselves are promoting globalization by creating
newurban spaces for such agencies of capital, informa-
tion and communication infrastructure, and labor
(Sassen 1996, 1991; Annan 2001). We note here that our
formulation above is not vastly different from what
Appadurai (1990) had suggested more than a decade
ago, that is, the phenomenon of globalization can be
understood by looking at the relationships between
what he identified as its five dimensions: (1)
ethnoscapes (movement of people), (2) mediascapes
(movement of images), (3) technoscapes (movement of
messages), (4) financescapes (movement of capital),
Agencies of Globalization 113
and(5) ideoscapes (movement of ideas andideologies).
If the categories of images andideas are collapsedinto a
single category of culture, the difference with our
schema essentiallydisappears. We shouldnote alsothat
neither Appadurais typology nor the one we present
here maybe exhaustive. Tobe sure, it maybe possible to
identify other agencies and effects of globalization, but
in our view, those are not likely to pertainto the domain
of urban form as we have postulated here.
The ongoing debates on globalization and the pro-
duction of urban spaces have mainly focused on net-
works and flows (Abu-Lughod 1989; Castells 1996,
1989; Appadurai 1996, 1990; Virilio 1997b; Clifford
1992; Hannerz 1992; Luke 1997; Thrift 1996, 1994;
Bingham 1996; Amin and Hausner 1997; Massey et al.
1999). Although definitive analyses of the effects of
globalization on urban form remain relatively sparse,
some scholars have offered important insights. One
noteworthy example is the work of Castells (1996,
1989), who argues that in the new global and informa-
tional economy, space of flows is becoming more
dominant in our life experience than the space of
places, in which the majority of people live and where
form, function, andmeaning are self-contained within
the boundaries of physical contiguity (Castells 1996,
423). In Castellss conception, the space of flows has
introduced a culture of real virtuality that is character-
ized by timeless time and placeless space, because the
more organizations depend, ultimately, uponflows and
networks, the less they are influenced by the social con-
texts associated with the places of their location
(Castells 1989, 170). Castells account for the restructur-
ing of space and place, however, remains somewhat
abstract without identifying how flows are mobilized
(M. Smith 1994; Thrift 1995; Dicken et al. 1997). First,
although global flows have effectively become
deterritorialized, they are designed, activated, and
legitimated by networks of powerful actors (Sassen
1991; Hamnett 1994), who are drawing capital, people,
information, andculture intospecific social place and
historical time to fulfill their goals. Transformation of
urban space is one product of this cosmopolitan net-
work, which is completely multilinear andof uneven
nature (Amin and Thrift 1992). Second, space and loca-
tionmay not be totally irrelevant inthe intrinsic circula-
tion requirements of capital. As proposed by Harvey
(1982), a concrete spatio-temporal fix is needed to
enable disembedded capital to flow more easily. The
grid of global cities (Sassen 1996) provides this fix for
global finance capital. Since cities linked to this grid
obtainmore opportunities toabsorb global capital, they
undertake maj or i nf rastructure and urban
development projects to improve their global image
and become a node in this network.
Globalization, however, seems to be working at dif-
ferent scales and dimensions. Appadurai (1990) claims
that it is simplistic to think of globalization as a one-
way, or even a two-way, process. The new global econ-
omy has to be seen as a complex, overlapping, disjunc-
tive order that cannot any longer be understood in
terms of existing center-periphery models (even those
that might account for multiple centers and peripher-
ies). Nor is it susceptible to single models of push and
pull (in terms of migration theory), or of surpluses and
deficits (as in traditional models of balance of trade), or
of consumers and producers (as in most neo-Marxist
theories of development) (Appadurai 1990).
Globalization also entails a form of global capitalist
order, supportedby an ideology of market liberalism. It
has two defining and interrelated characteristics: it is
consumerist and, to a large extent, postmodernist (in
the sense that it refers to the production and consump-
tion of symbols, and not so much of material objects).
Agency of Capital
From the new central business district in Manila to
the high-end apartments in suburban So Paulo, the
emerging urban landscape in many parts of the third
worldreflects formationof the newcapital stock. Trans-
national capital is transforming the shape, form, and
experience of living in those cities through massive
investments and thus by altering the structure of the
local economies.
Globalization involves increasing worldwide capital
flows through the international financial system and
property markets with transnational corporations at its
core. In one year alone, the world stock of foreign direct
investment (FDI) rose to more than U.S.$4 trillion in
1998, 20 percent more than in 1997 (United Nations
Conference on Trade and Development [UNCTAD]
1999). In 1998, the overall FDI flowing to developing
countries amounted to U.S.$166 billion, accounting for
one-fourth of the total. The breaking down of trade bar-
riers and the increasing global reach of large corpora-
tions have produced a world where production sites
move to places where land rent and labor costs are low
and the return on investment is high (P. Hall 1999).
For developing countries, openness to trade and
investment flows is the most potent catalyst for eco-
nomic growth. FDI is highlydesirable inthe thirdworld
as a means to facilitate economic development pro-
cesses, torelieve domestic capital supplybottlenecks, to
induce new technologies and skills, and to provide
urban environmental infrastructure and services
(UNCTAD 1999; Olds 2001). To attract foreign invest-
ment, these countries are not only dismantling the bar-
riers to unfettered mobility of trade and capital but are
also offering an ever-increasing number of new incen-
114 Journal of Planning Literature
tives and facilities such as tax benefits and special eco-
nomic zones withpreferential policies. Individual cities
now compete against each other for international capi-
tal and leading businesses, sometimes at the cost of
compromising social equity and environmental justice.
Facing this competition, many urban governments
have shifted the policies from a management to an
entrepreneurial orientation (Tibaijuka 2001).
There is a sizable literature on the economic global-
ization, from both political economy and neoclassic
perspectives. Optimists believe in the possibility of
mutual gains for the investor and receiving countries
and a spread of benefits worldwide (T. Friedman 1999;
Micklethwait and Wooldridge 2000). However, the
agency of capital is a mixed blessing. Observers in
developing countries worry that in a borderless world,
their wealth and resources will be depleted because of
the voracious appetites of mass consumption in the
more developed countries.
The literature on world systems theory (Wallerstein
1984, 1974) and the world city hypothesis (J. Friedman
1995, 1986) can be seen as the antecedents to the current
writings on globalization. The former had considerable
influence in shaping alternative theories of urbaniza-
tion, primacy, and system of cities as a function of
dependent and hegemonic relationships between the
center and the periphery of the world system (see, e.g.,
M. Smith 1994; McGee 1971; Santos 1979). The latter is
of a limitedscope. For one, it focuses onlyonthose cities
that play a major role in articulating the relevant
regional, national, andinternational economies into the
global economy. These are only a handful and located
mainly in the first world (e.g., London, New York,
Tokyo, Los Angeles). For another, the primary empha-
sis of worldcityresearchhas beenonthe agencyof capi-
tal and, to a much lesser extent, on the other agencies
presented here. And finally, world city analyses tend to
focus on the implications of global city systems, urban
hierarchies and cultural identities, and related politics
and policy, rather than urban form implications. John
Friedman (1995) makes us aware of such limitations by
pointingout that worldcityresearchtends tofocus only
on the effects of global capitalism on one-third of the
world population and their loci (a handful of cities in
the first and third worlds) while excluding a vast
periphery (also see Knox and Taylor 1995).
The concentration of FDI in larger urban centers
results in regional disparities and crowded urban cen-
ters. FDI is also observed to selectively benefit people
and exacerbate social polarization and segregation
(Greider 1997; Gray 1998; Luttwak 1999; Sassen 1996,
1991; Santos 1979). Typically, cities present some of the
starkest of these contrasts. Those concerned with tradi-
tions see the spread of transnational corporations such
as McDonalds, Coca-Cola, and Sony as the homogeni-
zation of urbanism and culture.
As a new transnational actor, global capital engen-
ders a tendency toward concentration of power, con-
trol, and appropriation of profits (Sassen 2000, 1996).
The international capital generates demand and pro-
vides financing for urban development in certain areas
and increases competition among cities. For these rea-
sons, FDI plays a key role in urban transformations that
include changing the urban hierarchy, spatial disconti-
nuity and segregation, uneven spatial development,
environmental degradation, homogenization of urban
landscape, privatization of the public realm, andtransi-
tional and hybrid urbanism(see, e.g., P. Hall 1998; King
1998; Sassen 1998).
We note, however, that there are contradictory opin-
ions in assessing the impact of the international capital
flowonthirdworldurbanform. For one, FDI has stimu-
lated economic decentralization. In the context of first
world cities, Sassen (1991) has observed that innova-
tions in the communication technologies will lead to
suburbanization of manufacturing and other instances
of economic decentralization. Indeed, Dick and
Rimmer (1998) argue that globalization has made the
conventional model of the third world city obsolete in
Southeast Asia. They suggest that the urban form of
Southeast Asian cities is beginning to look more and
more like that in the West, including multiple urban
centers and gated communities. Nevertheless, arguing
that these interpretations are shaped by the models of
the American city and economy, Chakravorty (2000)
suggests that urbanformandurbansystems of the third
world bear no resemblance to these models. Further-
more, there might even be no singular third world
city because of the range of diversity these cities
encompass. As global space meets the local space of a
city, the local particularities must be factored in to our
understanding (Dandekar 1998). In a comparative
study of Accra and Mumbai, Grant and Nijman (2002)
characterize the changing corporate presence as an
important manifestation of globalization. From a sur-
vey of the foreign and domestic corporations in these
cities, Grant and Nijman identify three distinctive cen-
tral business districts (CBDs) in each city that are differ-
ently linked to the global economy. The local CBD,
which has the highest concentration of small domestic
companies, overlaps in large part with the old native
town from the colonial times. Its corporate activity
tends to be oriented locally. The national CBDemerged
as the European town of the colonial times and was
nationalized after independence. Although its main
corporate activity is more global, this CBD accommo-
Agencies of Globalization 115
dates big domestic-company headquarters and a sub-
stantial number of foreign companies. In comparison,
the newly developed CBD reveals a dominant global
orientation, housing the largest share of foreign corpo-
rations and domestic multinational companies. The
corporate segregation based on domestic and foreign
ownership, Grant and Nijman conclude, is a reflection
of the spatially fragmented integration of the less-
developed societies to the global political economy.
Elsewhere, and her earlier observations notwithstand-
ing, Sassen (1996) points out that in some large third
worldcities such as Bangkok, Taipei, So Paolo, Mexico
City, and Buenos Aires, this phenomenon of exo-
polization is not occurring in the same way. Indeed,
Sassen believes that these cities are experiencing a
seemingly endless metropolitanization.
At present, capital and new production centers tend
to concentrate in a comparatively few centers rather
than being distributed evenly throughout the urban
hierarchy (Potter and Lloyd-Evans 1998). Anew urban
hierarchyseems tobe emergingwhere highest order cit-
ies are the beneficiaries of global dynamics, whereas
lower order cities continue to be shaped by older
endogenous forces. Thirdworldcities inthe higher tiers
are now competing intensely to keep up their status in
the global network in order to attract transnational cap-
ital. Metropolises like Shanghai and Manila, for exam-
ple, are aggressively seeking to become global cities by
improving their infrastructure; by expanding their
CBDs; and by promoting rapid development in the
finance, insurance, and real estate (FIRE) sector (see,
e.g., Dick and Rimmer 1998; Olds 2001).
The expansion and restructuring of the world econ-
omy has led to a huge demand for infrastructure sys-
tems, residential buildings, commercial spaces, and
public facilities in cities experiencing this accumulation
process (Armstrong and McGee 1985). In the 1990s,
massive amounts of foreign capital flowed into specu-
lative real estate ventures, leading to skyrocketing land
values and rent levels. This has resulted in more spe-
cialized and insular land use, as well as vertical growth
withinthe urbancore inunprecedentedscale andveloc-
ity in the leading cities. Some cities have experienced
substantial new industrial and commercial develop-
ment in peripheral areas with formation of new
subcenters, for example, the Paulista in So Paulo or
Pudong in Shanghai (King 1998; HABITAT 1996).
McGee (1991) invokes the desakota
model in deci-
phering the urban sprawl of the large and rapidly
developing Asian cities, in which urban-rural differ-
ences are being erased because of the shift of labor-
intensive industry from the first world to the third
world. He points out that if this trend continues, the
largest cities might even go beyond the familiar
polycentric pattern into a cluster of intensely related
city networks. As a result of these dynamics and as a
consequence of the influx of new capital, two opposite
and simultaneous trends have been observed in many
third world cities: concentration and deconcen- tration,
urbanization and exurbanization (HABITAT 1996; P.
Hall 1999).
Infusion of large amounts of foreign capital has
enabled rapid and large-scale development reflected in
the ever-growing skyline; a coarser grain in the urban
fabric; and, especially, the advent of megaprojects.
Herod (1991) argues that scale is produced as the reso-
lution of processes of cooperation and competition
between and among social groups in building land-
scapes (p. 82). One of the effects of this urban competi-
tion is that governments with such entrepreneurial atti-
tudes will promote cities as products in order to make
themappealing toglobal investors, rather thanregulate
their development to improve the quality of life of its
residents. The downside of this type of rapid develop-
ment in many third world cities, especially in South
East Asia in the late 1990s, is its contribution to the col-
lapse of regional economies, to the widening income
disparity, and to the annihilation of historical districts
and traditional neighborhoods to make room for com-
mercial megaprojects (Dandekar 1998; T. Friedman
1999; Wu 2000; Yucekus and Banerjee 1998).
Increasingly, these emerging urban landscapes con-
verge in appearance as gleaming citadels symbolic of
the prosperity of transnational corporations (Soja 1995;
Marcuse 1997). They are designed by the same expert
system of elite architects (Olds and Yeung 1999) who
receive commissions throughout the world from entre-
preneurial governments eager to promote the image of
their cities. Marcuse and van Kempen (2000) point to
the prevalence of these citadels throughout the world:
From London to Shanghai, Los Angeles to Kuala
Lumpur, Detroit to So Paulo, Paris to Bandung . . . cita-
dels of government and business share the skyline (p.
253). As they offer freedomof operationto global inves-
tors, these cities become the market landscapes of a new
global competition. In creating their new images, the
representation of power, wealth, of luxury, as Marcuse
and van Kempen (2000) point out, is inherent, as is the
isolation, the separation, the distinction from the older
urban surroundings (p. 253).
Global capital and transnational corporations intro-
duce to the third world newforms of corporate public
space such as plazas and shopping malls that are pri-
vately owned and treat the public as consumers
(Banerjee 2001). Ormond (2001) reports how the social
activities of the young and educated urban Moroccans
are shifting fromtraditional public spaces to places like
McDonalds. Literature focusing on the Western con-
116 Journal of Planning Literature
text highlights the decline of the traditional public
space and realmand blurring of the boundary between
public and private (see, e.g., Banerjee 2001), whereas
Drummond(2000) challenges the uses of the terms pub-
lic and private in the context of Vietnamese urban life,
because real public space in Vietnamese cities is actu-
ally lacking (also see Shannon 2001). Drummond fur-
ther contends that the Vietnamese cities actually showa
dual tendency. Unlike the Anglo-Americanurbanexpe-
rience, these cities are experiencing a resurgence, rather
than a decline, of street life, while adding to their stock
of pseudo-public corporate leisure spaces. According
to Shannon (2001), the global village has become
merely another layer while the local street has retained
its identity as a local street (p. 4).
Residential space in third world cities has also wit-
nessed effects from the global capital flow, in terms of
affordability, consumer preferences, and design aes-
thetics (Dick and Rimmer 1998; King 2000, 1998; Woods
1998). To market high-end housing, developers elabo-
rate transnational images through preferable (often
suburban) locations, safe andsanitizedneighborhoods,
and European and American nomenclature and archi-
tectural styles. The designated buyers are mainly what
Sklair (1991) calls the transnational global elite and,
in some cases, overseas workers.
The benefits of capital mobilityspreadunevenly. The
agencies of capital and the development of new sectors
result in polarization in income, which is represented
not only in increasing spatial segregation but also in the
simultaneous convergence and divergence in lifestyles
(Armstrong and McGee 1985)the elite and upper
income groups are following the consumption pattern
of North America and Europe, whereas living stan-
dards for unfavorable groups go even lower.
Agency of People
The secondagent of globalizationis the movement of
people across and within national boundaries. Both
types of population movements have important effects
on urbanism and urban form. There is a sizable litera-
ture on the effects of internal migrationespecially
rural-urban migrationon urbanization, primacy,
urbanform, andthe urbanhierarchyof cities innational
urban systems. Typically, this literature has considered
dynamics of internal migration within the closed sys-
temof cities defined by the territorial limits of a nation.
But lately, it is recognized that the internal migration of
populationoftenmaybe a functionof the political econ-
omy of trade and dependency within a world system
(see, e.g., Castells 1977; N. Smith 1992; M. Smith 1994;
Wallerstein 1988; McGee 1995; Santos 1979). Acompre-
hensive review of this literature is not warranted in the
scope of this article, because we want to focus here
mainly onthe international migrationof populations as
a principal dimension of globalization. We will, how-
ever, return to the theme of internal migration later in
our discussion of the various contingent effects of glob-
alization on urban form and urbanism of developing
economies. The international population movement
has several facets: immigration or emigration; refugee
populations; tourism; and nonimmigrant visits for
business, education, seasonal employment, or social
purposes. In the development literature, implications
for international economic integration for the workers
of the world are an important issue. These include
threats for workers, as recently expressed in both orga-
nized and grassroots opposition to the North American
Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA(U.S. House 1993) and
the WorldTrade Organization (WTO), as well as oppor-
tunities for international migration, which has indeed
peaked in the second half of the previous century (see
World Bank 1995). From the macroeconomic perspec-
tive, international migration should benefit both the
host and receiving countries. The former benefit froma
higher productivity of labor, relative to the wages they
are willing to accept (because it still significantly
improves their earning power relative to wages they
wouldget intheir countries of origin). The latter benefit
from the remittances sent home, thus increasing the
overal l i ncome l evel and new demands f or
consumption goods.
Before we explore specific urban form implications
of this particular agent of globalization, it will be useful
to briefly review the extent and parameters of interna-
tional migration, especially in the latter part of the
twentieth century, which has been referred to as the
age of migration (Castle and Miller 1993). We can
derive the following observations fromZlotniks (1998)
extensive review of the trends and parameters of inter-
national migration during 1965 to 1996. It seems that,
worldwide, the number of estimated foreign-born pop-
ulation(a proxyfor immigration) has increasedsome 60
percent from a little more than 75 million in 1965 to
almost 120 million in 1996. But in the grand schema of
things, the migrant population is a relatively small
amounta little more than 2 percentof the total
world population, although the annual rate of change
in this population has steadily increased during three
decades, from 1.2 percent to 2.6 percent. One other
interesting point is that although the immigration from
south to north remains a major political issue in many
Western countries, immigration within the south con-
stitutes the larger share of the total world immigration.
Most of the massive refugee movements resulting from
the end of the colonial era; communal and political
strife; and natural and man-made catastrophes such as
droughts, floods, earthquakes, famines, and enduring
Agencies of Globalization 117
poverty have taken place within the south. Regional
prosperity like that of the Gulf States, East Asia, and
some African nations continues to sustain the south-
south migrations.
International migration, however, is but one aspect
of the globalizing effects of the agency of people. Ever-
increasing tourism and business trips, as reflected in
growing volumes of air travel, are some of the other,
and probably more dominant, facets of this agent. But
what does all this mean for our understanding of the
transformations inurbanform? The following are some
emerging trends in urban form and urbanism that can
be directly (albeit not exclusively) attributedto the pop-
ulation agencies of globalization.
One of the earliest attempts to link this particular
agent of globalization to urbanismand urban formwas
in Anthony Kings (1976) British model of colonial
urban development in India. Using the culture con-
tact model where the institutions of exogenous colo-
nial culture confront indigenous institutions, King has
argued that resultant urban form is a product of this
interaction, leading to urban forms and urbanism that
are not necessarily cohesive or coherent. The usual out-
come of this process has been the familiar dualistic
urban form ,
even though a colonial third culture
one that combines aspects of the alien and indigenous
culturesmay permeate the consequent urbanism.
Zeynap eliks (1997) work in Algeria and Gwendolyn
Wrights work on Morocco (1991) also suggest similar
dualistic structure and hybrid urbanism, although nei-
ther of them has suggested the urbanism of third cul-
ture proposed by King. Certainly we should revisit
these conceptual models to examine the effects of con-
temporary globalization on urban space and life, espe-
ciallyif it canbe arguedthat the economic integrationis,
in fact, a formof neocolonialism where the north-south
relationship remains fundamentally asymmetric and
hegemonic. Ina phenomenological interpretationof the
globalization process from belowfrom the perspec-
tive of those who are poor, underclass, and not seen
by the radar of social sciencesMendieta (2001) argues
that we should also be aware of the invisible cities
within the more visible cities of globalization.
As King (1998) notes in a recent article, these
diasporic designs represent a constructed dream
cultures of (or for) the NRI, the term NRI being the
acronym commonly used in India to refer to expatriate
nonresident Indians. Comments King,
The international nature of facilities is matched by the
international (though mainly Euro-American) signify-
ingnomenclature usedtomarket the developmentsBel
Air, La Hacienda, Villa Del Mar, Belvedere, Riviera,
Manhattan, as well as a rich sprinkling of Anglicized
pseudo-aristocratic namesBurlington, Somerville,
Sinclair, Eden Gardens (rather than the garden of Eden).
(P. 28)
And there is also a new third culture of globalization
that pervades the spaces of the indigenous matrix,
which Benjamin Barber (2000) would describe as the
McWorldculture (that of fast-foodchains, discos, music
videos, Internet, hairstyles, and dress fads), also aptly
captured in the writings of Pico Iyer (2000).
Finally, as we have noted earlier, globalization also
may trigger internal migration, because of structural
changes in the rural and agricultural economy. This has
seemingly exacerbated the polarization and income
inequality in the urban population. Many third world
megacities continue to grow and expand, propagating
new urban sprawl, much of which remains poor hous-
ing stock, deficient in urban infrastructures (Lungo and
Baires 2001; Sabatini et al. 2001). In cities of Latin Amer-
ica, a new segregation is under way with two interest-
ing features. On one hand, demand for luxury housing
has prompteddevelopers to encroachonoldperipheral
favela lands to build new gated communities sharply
delineated from the surrounding poor neighborhoods,
whereas on the other hand, a new favelization is
under way, seemingly to house growing urban popula-
tion and not any newrural-urban migration. Thus, seg-
regation in urban space can be seen as another outcome
of globalization (Oliveras and Nez 2001; Corra do
Lago 2001; Villaa 2001). According to Chakravorty
(2000), however, the failure to integrate the local econ-
omy into the global market may also cause a more
uneven spatial distribution of production facilities,
thus increasing the risk of aggravating the misery of the
urban poor.
One aspect of homogenization that extends the
notion of globalization beyond the consumption of
images or products is what Hebdige (1990) refers to as
the disintegration of traditional markers of collective
identity, such as nation and class. He blames the
onslaught of global media, which has the power to
move people not just to buy the products of the cultural
industries, but to buy into networks that offer forms of
community and alliance which can transcend the (old)
confines of class, gender, regional andnational culture
(p. 90). At the same time, the agency of population
movement is increasingly leading to cities of ethnic
diversity and multicultural identity. The urban space
and form of emerging cosmopolisesas suggested
by Sandercock (1998)are posing new conflicts and
contradictions, and indeed new challenges, for plan-
ning and urban design in many parts of the world.
118 Journal of Planning Literature
Agency of Information and Communication Technology
Informationandcommunicationtechnology(ICT) in
this study refer to the set of activities facilitated by elec-
tronic means with the processing, transmission, and
display of information (OECDs ICCP panel),
such as
microelectronics, computing, telecommunications, and
broadcasting. ICT has emerged as a set of conduits for
flows of images, knowledge, information, and symbols
that integrate places and people into the global system
in real time (Graham and Marvin 1996, 2). Recent
works (e.g., Castells 1997, 1996; Dicken 1998) locate
ICTs at the center of developments in the global econ-
omy. In many areas, ICT has seamlessly diffused into
every aspect of urban life.
Graham and Marvin (1996) distinguish four domi-
nant approaches in investigating the role of ICT and
urban development: technological determinism, futur-
ism and utopianism, dystopianism, and social
constructionism. Scholars are discussing the blurring of
urban places and electronic spaces, the disorientating
and alienating effects, the intensified social control and
surveillance, and the social polarization and commer-
cialization under way in the Western cities. Meanwhile,
developing countries and disadvantaged groups
within countries are increasingly alarmed by an emerg-
ing digital divide, in which those without access to
the latest technologies and information are denied the
opportunity to compete in the global marketplace and
enjoy the ICT-improved services (Digital Divide
Network 2002).
In a study carried out for the World Bank, Rodriguez
and Wilson (2000) report that all developing countries
are improving their access to, and use of, modern ICTs,
some at a dramatic rate. However, the gap between the
rich Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development (OECD) countries and the poor develop-
ing countries keeps growing, bothin terms of ICTprod-
ucts and of incomes. The evidence shows that although
the average OECDcountry has roughly 11 times the per
capita income of a South Asian country, it has 40 times
as many computers, 146 times as many mobile phones,
and 1,036 times as many Internet hosts. Technological
investment and human capital are also much better in
developed economies. For instance, OECD economies
invest 9 times as much of their income in research and
development and have roughly 17 times as many tech-
nicians and 8 times as many scientists per capita as the
economies of sub-Saharan Africa.
Much has been written on the utopian virtual com-
munity freed from the constraints of time and space
(see, e.g., Martin 1978; Dutton et al. 1987; Rheingold
1993, 1991; Wilbur 1997). A city might no longer have
any imaginable form or definable boundary (Gibson
1984). On one hand, ICTs have allowed deterri-
torialization (Guaratti 1992) or even dematerialization
of a citybythe vast, rapidflows of informationthat sub-
stitute and monitor physical flows and reduce the
dependence on physical propinquity and social con-
tacts. Associated is the growing loss of a sense of place
(e.g., Boyer 1996) and the dissolution of architecture
and the process of city planning (Virilio 1997b; Deleuze
1992). On the other hand, even industries that rely most
heavily on ICTs, such as finance, are installed only
partly in electronic space. Although the literature tends
to underplay the physical dimension (Douglass 2000),
the growing digitalization of economic activities has
not eliminated the need for improving the built envi-
ronment to host these global activities and all the mate-
rial resources and people they concentrate (Castells
1989; Graham and Marvin 1996; Sassen 1998). There-
fore, Graham and Marvin (1996) claim the contempo-
rary city to be an amalgam of urban places and
electronic spaces (p. 379).
Some scholars have argued that ICT actually pro-
motes simultaneous spatial dispersion and concentra-
tion (Castells 1989; Graham and Marvin 1994; Sassen
1991). Territorial dispersion is increasing with the flexi-
bility in production brought by ICTs (Castells 1989;
Daniels 1993; Marshall et al. 1988). Nevertheless,
Sassen (2001) argues that the uncertainty and increased
pressure of speed in many of the leading sectors con-
tribute to a new logic for spatial agglomeration. The
availability of ICT facilities has resulted in the central-
ization of the most advanced users in the most
advancedICTcenters (Castells 1989). The emergence of
global cities andthe extremely high densities evident in
these cities downtown districts are the spatial expres-
sionof this logic. Insteadof the dichotomyof centraliza-
tionversus dispersion, GrahamandMarvin(1996) tried
to capture the complex and contradictory nature of the
city-telecommunications relations in four key aspects:
physical and developmental synergies, substitute
effects, generation effects, and enhancement effects. In
studying the urban-edge-forms of the emerging Sili-
con Valleys of the developing worldBangalore and
Guadalajara, in this instanceAudirac (2003, 2002)
concludes that these newdevelopments are symbolic of
the polarizing and exclusionary nature of the global
information economy. The result is the growth of privi-
leged and segregated spatial enclaves that further
exacerbate the already dualistic nature of many of these
Boyer (1996) identifies the spatial and temporal
disjunction of the well-designed nodes and the in-
betweenblanks inthe cybercities, for example, the lag-
Agencies of Globalization 119
and colonial nonplaces in the city center. She
attributes these trulyinvisible spaces tothe effects of
a willful dismemberment rather than natural bipolar
places of uneven development. Hence, she perceives
the cybercities as a mixture of cyber space and urban
dystopia (pp. 20-21). Although Boyer develops the
argument on urban fragmentation and temporal
disjunctions based on the postmodern cities only, we
notice similar phenomena in the thirdworld. In a larger
scale, many cities in developing regions have been for-
gotten when limited third world cities are integrated
into the global matrix. Within the newly created global
nodes, more lag-time places can be observed. Unfortu-
nately, the literature falls short in examining this topic
in third world cities.
Castells (1996) suggests the space of flows as the
dominant spatial form of the network society, in which
the megacity is a significant type of the diversified
informational city. He gives the Pearl River Delta in
China as anexample of megacities, whichare character-
ized by the distinctive feature of being globally con-
nected and locally disconnected, physically and
socially (p. 407). According to Mollenkopf and
Castells (1991), megacities are discontinuous constella-
tions of spatial fragments, functional pieces, and social
segments. Nevertheless, multiple communication links
form the backbone of this spatial unit by providing the
internal linkage andthe connectionof the whole system
to the global economy. In this way,
flows define the spatial form and the processes. Within
each city, within each area, processes of segregation and
segmentationtake place, ina patternof endless variation.
But such segmented diversity is dependent upon a func-
tional unity marked by gigantic, technology-intensive
infrastructures. (Castells 1996, 409)
Some observers worry that the richness of urban life
might reduce to the flatness of the scanscape (Burrows
1997). Urban experiences and memories might be
diversely mediatized (Burgin 1997; Guaratti 1992;
Ostwald 1997), leading to an overexposed, phantom
city (Virilio 1997b) without the real intuitions of urban
Castells (1996, 418) argues that the emergence of the
space of flows, which promotes ahistorical, acultural
architecture, is blurring the meaningful relationship
between architecture and society. Consequently,
postmodernism, which selectively draws from historic
elements purely for the sake of formal harmony rather
thanany real meaning, couldbe consideredan example
of this new architecture of space of flows (Saunders
1996, as quoted by Castells 1996).
In terms of the power structure, the elites start to
dominate the third layer of the space of flows. This elite
group forms its own secluded communities by price
barrier andcreates a lifestyle, as well as spatial forms, to
unify the symbolic environment of the elite around the
world. The results are architectural homogeneity and
nudity in this environment, where the buildings look
so neutral, so pure, so diaphanous, that they do not
pretend to say anything (Castells 1996, 420).
Is the disciplinary breakdown entailed by the
cyberspace enhancing democracy while reducing the
demand for social contact and public space? Habermas
(1998) defines public sphere as a part of social life where
access is guaranteed to all citizens. Therefore, futurists
imagine that a limitless public space accessible to all
will represent spirit of community (D. Foster 1997).
More practically, within the realm of government and
the economy, scholars explore newpossibilities for gov-
ernance with fundamental changes in power structure
and the opening up of ICT communication as a
medium, particularly for those marginalized by exist-
ing power structures (e.g., Loader 1997). By examining
the practice of South African governments, Martin Hall
(2000) finds little evidence that being digital is lead-
ingtogreater democratization (p. 468). There exists the
possibility of an information aristocracy (Carter
1997), totalitarian control (Virilio 1997a), and increased
bureaucratic surveillance rather than a digital
Utopian writers develop cyberpunk fantasies of the
electronic cottages or the smart homes (Toffler
1980), which allow people to retreat to the cocoons of
safe suburban homes and connect with the outside
worldonly through ICTs. Cities are undergoing the loss
of third places, like coffee shops and taverns, that
offer opportunity for informal contact (Oldenberg
1991). Concurrently with this trend of antiurbanism
and the demassified society, we also observe people
retreating from the real community to the commercial-
ized theme-parking of public space with controlled
atmospheres and increased surveillance (e.g., Banerjee
2001; Knack 2000; Jackson 1994; Sorkin 1992). However,
defenders of the virtual community refer to the demise
of the traditional community and the hunger for com-
munity that grows in the breasts of people around the
world as more and more informal public spaces disap-
pear from our real lives (Rheingold 1993, 6), as one
explanation for the popularity of virtual communities.
Other scholars (see, e.g., Mitchell 1995) drawananal-
ogy between a real community and virtual ones, claim-
ing that public cyberspace with accessibility, friendli-
ness, freedomof action, andsome public control maybe
just like what Kevin Lynch (1984) defined for a good
120 Journal of Planning Literature
public space. In this sense, the cyberspace is just the vir-
tual extension of the older traditions, rather than a
unique domain.
The cybercaf phenomenon has been perceived as a
new public cyberspace. Betzen and Askwarn (1997)
regard cybercafs as a public sphere within a public
sphere because inside the physical confines of the caf,
people are making face-to-face contacts andat the same
time are also communicating with others in distance
using a computer interface. Martin Hall (2000) reports a
substantial operation of cybercafs and a wide range of
user groups even in South Africa. Furthermore, Hall
forecasts that South Africas digital culture will emerge
as a new combination of the cosmopolitan and the dis-
tinctly locala mixture of global expressions and
familiar regional characteristics. Ormonds study
(2001) also highlights the global andlocal collisions and
adaptation of philosophies, behaviors, and practices
occurring in contemporary reconfiguration of public
spaces and associates it with young, educated, middle-
class, urban Moroccans.
Many theorists argue that the economic growth in
developing areas can be enhanced by ICT. Indeed, its
absence may impair economic growth (World Bank
2000). Some cities will gaintheir global competitiveness
at a cost of growing inequality and growing fragmenta-
tion of urban civic culture (see, e.g., Sassen 2000). And,
because some segments of the developed countries will
remain out of the newly connected worlds, as well as
the major part of the developing countries, Castells
(2000) develops the concept of the Fourth World,
is composed of people, and territories, that have lost
value for the dominant interests in informational capital-
ism. . . . This fourth world of social exclusion, beyond
poverty, exists everywhere, albeit in different propor-
tionsfrom the South Bronx to the shanties of Jakarta.
And there is a systemic relationship between the rise of
informational, global capitalism, under current historical
conditions, and the extraordinary growth of social exclu-
sion and human despair. (Pp. 164-65)
As Dertouzos (1997) points out, Left to its own
devices, the information marketplace will increase the
gap between rich and poor countries and between rich
and poor people (p. 241).
Agency of Culture
The fourth agency in our proposition is that of cul-
ture. The elements of this agency are the global flows of
popular music, movies, TV shows, video games, fash-
ion, and tourism. These cultural agencies go hand in
hand with the ideology of mass consumerism and both
currently have a global reach without precedent in
human history. Although the spread of cultures over
the globe dates back to the dissemination of human
societies inprehistoric times, todays spreadis unprece-
dentedthanks tothe time-space compressionbrought
about by communication technologies (Harvey 1989)
andthe unstoppable resolutionof the transnational cul-
tural industries to increase profit margins. All evidence
points at the fact that under the influence of globaliza-
tion, Western consumer culture is spreading at great
speeds across national borders. Held et al. (1999), for
example, note that
there is no historical equivalent of the global reach and
volume of cultural traffic through contemporary tele-
communication, broadcasting and transport infrastruc-
tures (p. 327). . . . No historical parallel exists for such
intensive and extensive forms of cultural flows that are
primarily forms of commercial enrichment and
entertainment. (P. 368)
All evidence points at the fact that under the influence
of globalization, Western consumer culture is spread-
ing at great speeds across national borders (Robertson
Although there are different views on the globaliza-
tion of culture, three main perspectives prevail: that of
hyperglobalizers (Benyon and Dunkerley 2000;
Hamelink 1983) who forecast cultural homogenization
as an outcome of the influence of Western media and
consumerismon the rest of the world, that of sceptics
(e.g., Castells 1977) whoregardthe impact of global cul-
ture as rather superficial, and that of transforma-
tionists (Appadurai 1990; Hannerz 1991; Held et al.
1999, in Benyon and Dunkerley 2000) who predict the
emergence of new and exciting global cultural net-
works that may result in cultural hybridization.
Unfortunately, what these three groups have to say
about specific effects of globalization onthe urban form
and urbanism in the third world is rather scant. Our
conclusions on the subject had to be indirectly extrapo-
lated from their views on the globalization of culture.
Hyperglobalizers have the upper hand on what can
be said about the effects of globalization on the world;
their most heralded theme is the homogenization of
culture and consumer products. Hamelink (1983), for
example, believes that cultural diversity across the
world might be obliterated and replaced by a cultural
homogeneity of the American type. And, considering
that buildings and cities are the largest human artifacts
produced by humankind, the question arises as to
whether globalization is also homogenizing urban
Agencies of Globalization 121
form and architecture. According to Benyon and
Dunkerley (2000), because the icons of American popu-
lar culture are everywhere, it makes sense to believe
that eventually all cultural difference would be erased
and cultural sameness superimposed, fueled by the
immensely powerful, transnational media corpora-
tions (p. 7). Tomlinson (1991) refers to these ideas as a
broad process of cultural convergence in the cultures of
the world (p. 135).
Appadurai (1990), however, con-
tests this view, arguing that although globalization
involves the use of a variety of instruments of homoge-
nization(armaments, advertising techniques, language
hegemonies, and clothing styles) that are in turn
absorbed into local political and cultural economies,
globalization of culture is not the same as its
Hannerz (1991) assumes an intermediary position.
He argues that due to the great increase in the traffic of
culture and of meaning systems and symbolic forms,
the world is becoming increasingly one in terms of its
cultural construction. Thus, a cultural icon, object, or
ideology may end up internalized by the receiving cul-
ture as part of a maturational tendency, a process
whereby global cultural forms are absorbed and repro-
duced by the local culture. Under this postulate, in the
initial stages of globalization, foreign cultural forms
coexist alongside local cultures and eventually become
hybridized. This process is what Appadurai (1990)
terms indigenization: elements of the cultural agency
becoming internalized and adopted as indigenous. The
relevance of this view for our present work lies in his
claim that this is not only true in music, science, and
spectacles but also in housing. Exogenous architectural
styles and urban form eventually become assimilated
and transformed by the local culture. According to
Hannerz, this process is completed by the local cul-
tural entrepreneurs. This process seems inevitable. In
Becks (2000) words, Local cultures can no longer be
justified, shapedandrenewedinseclusionfromthe rest
of the world (p. 47).
The above analyses beg the question for the observ-
ers of globalization on how culture is being globalized.
Castells (1996) suggests that in the globalization of cul-
ture, there is anintegrationof all messages ina common
cognitive pattern where different communication
modes borrow codes from each other: interactive edu-
cational programs look like video games, newscasts are
constructedas audiovisual shows, trial cases are broad-
cast as soapoperas, sports games are choreographedfor
their distant viewers so that their messages become less
distinguishable from action movies, and the like. Fol-
lowing Castellss observations, it is plausible that
images of urban environments in popular media are
manipulated in ways similar to the marketing of any
other consumer good, thus influencing taste in
architectural styles and urban form.
Other observers (Sklair 1991; Lury 1996), however,
lessen the importance of the media in privileging the
ideology of capitalism. The emergence of a global cul-
ture, they argue, is the direct outcome of late capitalism
reshaping desires, creating needs, and opening up new
arenas for capital accumulation. H. Foster (1985), for
example, sees globalization as an abject surrender to
commoditization, commercialization, and consumer-
ism, and a blatant cultural degradation by the media,
advertising, and communication industries in their
drive to maximize profits. Armstrong and McGees
notion of theaters of accumulation (1985) comes in
handy, if worrisome, whenguessing the possible effects
of such concept of globalization on the urban form and
urbanism of the third world cities; they stress the fact
that cities alone do not generate processes of capitalist
production and accumulationthey are only the-
aters of those processes. Schiller (1991) makes a similar
analysis, arguing that cultural imperialismresults from
transnational capitalismandits insatiable drive for new
markets andmaximumprofits. Nevertheless, Schiller is
more specific in pointing out that this imperialism is
associated with the cultural, economic, and political
role of the United States (see also Benyon and
Dunkerley 2000). In addition to music, the electronic
reach of Hollywood, McDonalds, Coca-Cola, Nike,
and Adidas, among many other brand-name products,
seems to be ensuring the spread of a new world cul-
ture. Cvetkovich and Kellner (1997) attest to this idea,
suggesting that the consumer society, with is plethora
of goods and services, transnational forms of architec-
ture and design, and a wide range of products and
social forms is traversing national boundaries and
becoming part of a New World culture (p. 7). Further-
more, Giddens (1990) proposes that what is being sold
tothe thirdworldis not necessarily Americanculture or
American products but the idea of selling itself.
What these authors do not include in their analyses,
however, is the possibility that if products seen or
advertised in image-based media influence the buyers
decision to purchase a particular product, we also have
toentertainthe notionthat globalization equals Amer-
icanization because what is undeniably American is
the concentration of ownership of global media and
transmission in the hands of a small number of Ameri-
can corporations. Although pop music has become a
staple consumer good produced in many regions of the
world, for example, today 70 percent of all music is pro-
duced and distributed by a handful of huge American
transnational corporations that integrate production,
transmission, andpromotion(as exemplified by MTVs
round-the-clock global diffusion of music videos via
122 Journal of Planning Literature
satellite transmissions). For this reason, some authors
call this formof cultural diffusion not only American
but American media imperialism (Mattelart and
Siegelaub 1979; Mattelart et al. 1984; Schiller 1976).
Althoughthe literature does not offer ananalysis where
we can understand the relation between small-sized
commodities and large ones (e.g., buildings) as cultural
products, other authors shift from the influence of the
capitalist cultural industries to the impact of modernity
as another agency of globalization.
This alternative view is offered by Giddens (1990)
and Lyotard (1993), who suggest that globalization is
actually an outcome of modernization. Lyotard (1993)
argues that modernism is the factor that has contrib-
uted to the adoption of urbanistic cultural values in the
third world. He views modernism as another project
of European colonialism . . . linking modern architec-
ture to an ideal of progressive realization of social and
individual emancipation encompassing all human-
ity . . . a global reconstruction of the space of human
habitation (p. 47).
Modernism, understood as another dimension of
Western culture, as explained by Lyotard (1993) may
shed some light on how the globalization of culture
may affect the architecture, urban form, and urbanism
of the third world cities. Perhaps the best available evi-
dence of the influence of the globalization of culture
through modernization on urban form is the case of
Latin America in the latter half of the last century.
Inthose decades, andunder the rubric of change and
progress, the military regimes of Latin America started
a crusade to modernize their cities. The alliance with
modernist architects and urbanists, trained in the inter-
national style, produced massive blocks of ministries
and offices, steel and glass skyscrapers, freeways and
airports, and residential urbanizations in a scale
unprecedented in the history of the continent (Segre
1981). The international style became the architectural
trademark, changing not only the look of buildings but
also the form of cities. Modern subdivision ordinances
and the construction of freeways and other major infra-
structure projects transformed the older Laws of
urban pattern and older European trends into
modernizedcities. The constructionof Brasilia, the new
capital of Brazil, for instance, is but one example of the
type of projects the military elites initiated to catch on
withthe modernismalready rampart in Europe andthe
UnitedStates (see also Holston1989; Vargas andLopez-
Rangel 1981). From the perspective of the transforma-
tionists, it can be deduced, however, that moderniza-
tion la Americana may change. A growing literature
in the fieldof cultural studies tries to document alterna-
tive modernities in the developing world with their
own unique processes and trajectories transitioning to
what Hosagrahar (2001) calls indigenous moderni-
ties (also see Gaonkar 2001; Ghannam 2002) as an
alternative to the common notion of Western
The effects of these modernization policies can be
seen today in many Latin American cities. They show
evidence of middle- and upper-class suburban residen-
tial developments in inner-city and peripheral areas.
Literature on the subject not only shows evidence of a
centrifugal movement of . . . high income groups away
from the center of the city (Harris 1971, 61) with char-
acteristics similar to the American suburb but also sug-
gests that the new urban pattern is imported from the
United States. Writing about this period, Gilbert (1994)
denounces that
alien cultural practices . . . swept through [Latin Amer-
ica]. Its cities have naturally taken on a similar look, not
only to one another, but also to the principal source of
new technology, investment, and culture: North Amer-
ica. . . . Differences are apparent but, apart from the writ-
ingof the signs, it is sometimes difficult todistinguishthe
streets of Caracas from those of Los Angeles . . . Latin
Americas affluent suburbs featured . . . California style
housingduringthe 1950s and1960s. Today, most elite res-
idential areas feel much like North American suburbs.
Indeed, the whole suburban life-style is imitative of the
United States, based on the car and its associated retail
structures such as the supermarket and shopping and
entertainment malls (p. 30). . . . [The Latin American
city] . . . manifests a strong dependency relationship
with . . . the United States. . . . Residential segregation,
traffic congestion, and employment patterns are to some
extent imported phenomena. [The] ever expanding
sprawl, . . . shopping malls, cinemas and entertainment
complexes . . . look more andmore like a NorthAmerican
city. (P. 6)
This Americanization by means of the modernization
of urban form denounced by Gilbert (1994) and others
such as Scott (1997) is nonetheless contested.
The impact of cultural agencies on the receiving cul-
ture is yet another aspect that contributes to under-
standing globalization and its effects on urbanism.
We revisit the framework we presented in Table 1 at
the beginning of the article to recapitulate our overall
arguments and interpretive summary of the literature.
This is displayed in subsequent tables (see Tables 2 and
3) andmaynot require additional narrative. The gaps in
Agencies of Globalization 123
the literature, andindeedlimitations of our framework,
should be obvious.
Ironically, although growing consumerism and
homogenization are creating convergence across cul-
tures, geographies, and economies, there are also
enduring signs of separation, isolation, segregation,
and income polarization. Immigration and rural-urban
migration are creating new mutations in the urban fab-
ric. Enclaves are formedto maintain or create newiden-
tities of diaspora, or ethnic andreligious solidarities. As
globalization benefits the leading edge andintegrates it
with the transnational society, the trailing edge often
remains stationery, leading to income polarization,
excluded from the global village. There are signs of
decreasing social contact and increasing isolation
between people and neighborhoods. A different ver-
sionof a dualistic societyseeminglyis onthe rise, where
gated communities and exclusive suburbs coexist with
slums and squatter settlements.
This review also raises some interesting questions
about not only the nature of the interdependencies of
these agencies but also the degree of variability of their
penetration in the settlement hierarchy.
At a global
level, there is an argument that such influences may
actually follow the diffusion of innovation processes.
Some authors (e.g., Soon 2001) argue that the cities in
the higher tier of a global hierarchy of cities in the third
world are more directly affected by cultural trends and
their manifestation in architectural styles, whereas the
ones in lower tiers are followers of trends in the upper
124 Journal of Planning Literature
TABLE 2. Relevant Concepts and Propositions Included in the Literature
Aspects of
Discourse on
Agencies of Globalization
Urban Form
and Urbanism Capital People Information (ICT) Culture
Urbanism Temporal polarization/
timeless space, internal
Loss of local identity Placelessness, exopolis,
edge city; commodifica-
tion of culture
Image and
Modernity, Western
lifestyle, borrowed style
Communities of diaspora,
enclaves of expatriates,
planning challenges for
Rise of new cultural
Dual or hybrid
Spatial organi-
zation and
Changing urban hierarchy,
urbanization and
exurbanization, more
specialized and separate
land use, vertical growth
Urban sprawl, housing
Placelessness, simul-
taneous dispersion
and concentration,
spatial fragmenta-
tion and
Placelessness, exopolis,
edge city
Social ecology Increasing polarization and
Increasing polarization
and segregation
Increasing polarization of
class, ethnic identity
Public realm De-emphasize public space,
business citadel instead of
civic realm, ambiguous
public-private relationship,
no street life
Emphasis on public life
in private realm
Virtual communi-
ties, civitas of
Commodification of
Pace and scale
of development
Enlarged scale of develop-
ment: changing skyline,
coarse grain in urban fabric
(lot size, street width, etc.)
Enlarged scale of develop-
ment because of housing
and service demand
Hegemony, reducing diver-
sity, business citadel:
symbolic use, redevelop-
ment of traditional area
Increasing diversity Ahistorical,
McDonald culture:
reducing diversity;
culture for place selling:
increase diversity (but
commercialized to attract
tourists, etc.)
tiers. The cities at the higher tiers, argues Soon, tend to
lead in the intellectual as well as in the artistic fields
and, at the lower tiers, those cities tend merely to fol-
low (p. 268). Soon seems to suggest that these cities in
the lower tiers are more susceptible to be affectedby the
cultural influences of globalization.
Thus, cultural homogenization and mass consumer-
ismmaynot be the inexorable fate for the thirdworld, at
least in the interim. The World Trade Center disaster
will continue to underscore the inevitable tension
betweenclass andculture exacerbatedbyglobalization.
In the absence of any larger political denouement of
Agencies of Globalization 125
TABLE 3. Examples of Corresponding Bibliographic Sources
Aspects of
Discourse on
Agencies of Globalization
Urban Form
and Urbanism Capital People Information Culture
Urbanism Dandekar (1998); Dick and
Rimmer (1998); T. Fried-
man (1999); King (2000,
1998); Woods (1998)
Iyer (2000); Mendieta
Boyer (1996); Burrows (1997);
Burgin (1997); Guaratti
(1992); Oldenberg (1991);
Ostwald (1997); Toffler
(1980); Virilio (1997b)
Gilbert (1994)
Identity and
King (1998); Olds (2001) Hebdige (1990);
Sandercock (1998)
Castells (1997); King (2000)
Spatial organi-
zation and
Armstrong and McGee
(1985); Chakravorty (2000);
Dick and Rimmer (1998);
HABITAT (1996); King
(2000, 1998); Olds (2001);
Perera (1998); Potter and
Lloyd-Evans (1998), Yeung
and Olds (2000)
elik (1997) Castells (1989); Daniels
(1993); Dutton et al. (1987);
Gibson (1984); Graham and
Marvin (1994, 1996); Guaratti
(1992); Marshall et al. (1988);
Martin (1978); Rheingold
(1993, 1991); Sassen (2001,
1991); Wilbur (1997)
Gilbert (1994)
Social ecology Armstrong and McGee
(1985); Greider (1997);
Gray (1998); Luttwak
(1999); Marcuse (1997);
Santos (1979); Sassen
(1996, 1991)
Corra do Lago
(2001); Lungo and
Baires (2001);
Oliveras and Nez
(2001); Sabatini et al.
(2001); Villaa (2001)
Boyer (1996); Castells (2000,
1997, 1996, 1989); Sassen
Castells (1997)
Public realm Banerjee (2001); Drummond
(2000); Shannon (2001)
Betzen and Askwarn (1997);
Banerjee (2001); Carter
(1997); D. Foster (1997); M.
Hall (2000); Jackson (1994);
Knack (2000); Loader (1997);
Mitchell (1995); Ormond
(2001); Sorkin (1992); Virilio
Sorkin (1992)
Scale and
pace of
Dick and Rimmer (1998);
Yucekus and Banerjee
(1998); Wu (2000)
Castells (1997, 1996);
Mollenkopf and Castells
Olds and Yeung (1999);
Soja (1995)
King (1998); Wright
Castells (1996); Deleuze
(1992); Saunders (1996);
Virilio (1997b)
Beng (2001); Cvetkovich
and Kellner (1997);
Gilbert (1994); Iyer
(2000); Lyotard (1993);
Mosquera (2001); Short
and Kim (1999); Tzonis
et al. (2001)
these conflicts and tensions, planners and designers,
meanwhile, will have to find ways to mitigate the con-
tradictions of globalization in the planning and design
of urban spaces and places. It is a formidable task. This
article, we hope, is a modest beginning of a relevant
In our conclusions, we argue that beyond the task of
organizing the literature, the frameworkmayalso serve
as a methodological tool to study the development of
third world cities (and, perhaps, to take a renewed look
at some world cities in the first world). We also found,
however, that the coverage of the effects of globaliza-
tion on the urban formand urbanismof third world cit-
ies is still limitedanduneveninthe literature pertaining
to various fields. Although there is more information
about the effects of capital investments and immigra-
tion on economy and society, the impacts of the infor-
mation and culture agencies remain less explored.
1. McGee (1991) coined two Indonesian words, desa (village) and
kota (town), for the new regions stretching along corridors between
large Asian cities. During the urbanization process in Asia, the dis-
tinction between rural and urban has become vague. The desakota
regions, which were originally agricultural areas, have been closely
enmeshed with the urban economy. They comprise an intense mix-
ture of settlement and economic activity as a result of the linkages
between agriculture and nonagriculture, and investment seeking
cheap labor and land.
2. According to one report, expatriate remittances can represent a
significant share of national economiesbetween 10 and 50 percent
of gross national product in countries like Jordan, Lesotho, Yemen,
and the West Bank and Gaza. In countries like Bangladesh, Burkina
Faso, Egypt, Greece, Jamaica, Malawi, Morocco, Pakistan, Portugal,
Sri Lanka, Sudan, and Turkey, remittances are as high as 25 to 50 per-
cent of their national export revenue (World Bank 1995, 66). Yet, the
same report also points out that the growth in the remittance-based
income may at the same time further exacerbate income inequality,
since the skilledmigrants oftencome fromthe better-off strata of their
respective societies.
3. See, for example, Castells (1977).
4. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
(OECD)s Information, Computer, Communications Policy panel.
5. The lag-time places refer to the forgotten spaces left between
disparate developments. See Bhabha (1991).
6. Castells (1977), for example, is skeptical of the the role of new
western cultural values and of the attraction exerted by new types
of urban consumption [as] diffused by the mass media (p. 58).
7. The Laws of the Indies of 1573 stipulated that all new cities will
beginfroma plaza inthe center, boundedbystreets inthe north-south
and east-west direction defining the basic grid. The size of the plaza
was to reflect the expected size of the cities (minimumsize 200 300,
maximum532 800). The main church, military, judiciary, andother
administrative buildings were to be located along the sides of the
plaza. The church andthe state were closely linked in the founding of
these new cities. Important Latin American cities like Lima (Peru),
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Bogota (Colombia), Santiago (Chile), Mex-
ico City, and the like are notable examples. In a country like Mexico
and throughout Latin America, for that matter, almost every town
small or largereflects this paradigm.
8. We are grateful to one of our reviewers who reminded us of this
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