Cities offer people opportunities for strong civic attachments and a palpable sense of identity. At the same time, many cities offer people tangible opportunities for discovering economic security for themselves and their families. And some of the world’s largest cities offer the greatest opportunities if they are to produce the correct blend of economic advantage, diversity and inclusion.
The forces at play in cities are not determined by nation states. But neither are they the product of random variation. There is a patterning to cities. It may be difficult to detect, but it’s there; and the powerful forces that create this complex urban patterning apply in differing degrees, to all cities.
This paper sketches the nature of these forces. It also suggests that these forces need to be enabled but they also need to be tamed. That’s because these forces will feed upon themselves — what starts as being a force for urban success can end by distorting city economies and become a source of urban failure.