Call for Papers: 'Causes and Consequences of the Upscaling of Urban Systems'

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2013 Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting
Los Angeles, USA
9-13 April 2013

Causes and Consequences of the Upscaling of Urban Systems

Frank Witlox, Ben Derudder, Kobe Boussauw, Michiel van Meeteren (Ghent University), Alain Thierstein, Michael Bentlage (Munich University of Technology), Frank van Oort (Utrecht University)

In the last decades we have witnessed a resurgence of research emphasizing the relevance of cities and urban areas for economic vitality. As economies become more complex and service oriented, the heterogeneity of labor, housing and knowledge inputs as well as the provision of international connectivity all privilege agglomerations as the site of innovations and economic growth. Spatially these developments tend to lead to an upscaling of functional urban regions. Upscaling implies that the boundaries of the urban area for several functions tend to stretch themselves beyond the traditionally conceived boundaries of the city. The result is a process of metropolitanization, where urban regions increasingly become functionally polycentric. This applies to the intra-urban scale where the central-place functions re-order themselves, as well as the inter-urban scale where formally disjointed cities increasingly interact and therefore might attain economies of scale due to borrowed size effects. 

This session seeks both theoretical and empirical contributions that elucidate causes and consequences of metropolitanization and polycentric development in the contemporary era. Contributions may include but are not limited to:

  • Contributions that connect the upscaling of urban systems to the networked character of the contemporary economy. To what extent do transnational interlinkages contribute to the upscaling of urban systems and to what extent are agglomeration economies contributing to global network formation (the Neo Marshallian nodes in Global Networks thesis)?
  • Research on restructuring and transformation of cities and places in the context of urban systems
  • The role of new infrastructural connections such as high speed rail linkages, airline networks or metropolitan transit networks in polycentric metropolitanization
  • Issues of sustainable (mobility) management related to the upscaling of urban systems
  • Research on the consequences of increased accessibility and borrowed size for central place formation

Scholars interested in presenting a paper in this session are invited to submit an abstract of up to 250 words by October 11 to Michiel van Meeteren, Ghent University ( Successful submissions will be contacted by 15 October 2012 and will be expected to register and submit their abstracts online at the AAG website by October 24th 2012.