This Research Bulletin has been published in PJ Taylor, B Derudder, P Saey and F Witlox (eds) (2007) Cities in Globalization: Practices, Policies and Theories London: Routledge, pp. 1-12.
Please refer to the published version when quoting the paper.
INTRODUCTION: BY-PASSING THE SOCIAL SCIENCE TRINITY
Social science has not been kind to cities. What I mean by this is that cities as social entities – how they feature in social change – have been relatively neglected. This may be because studying cities does not fit easily into the ‘process-defined’ division of social science into disciplines, the core trinity of economics, sociology and political science that purport to match the three basic spheres of human activities. Thus the study of cities has been largely relegated to marginal areas of social science, notably human ecology/urban sociology and urban geography/city planning. In recent years these areas have been brought together as ‘urban studies’ but notice that they remain a collection of ‘studies’ (implying theoretically-challenged understanding) rather than a new focused ‘discipline’ (implying theoretical sophistication). But the neglect still remains curious not least because social science was invented to understand modern society and the concrete manifestation of this societal type has been large-scale urbanization. I suppose it could be argued that the urban has become ubiquitous and therefore cities are taken-for-granted in social science. But, again, this argument does not stand up since states as social entities feature prominently in understanding social change while being typically taken-for-granted in social science. Clearly being taken-for-granted can be either a sign of immanent power or an indicator of irrelevance.
Although these proffered reasons for neglecting cities in social science are partial explanations at best, they do lead us to ask the right questions. Why does the defining of disciplines through separating social processes downgrade the importance of cities? What is this immanent power that states have in social science – and why don’t cities have it? The answer to both these questions is that social practices that are modern have been naturalised. Thus the particular modern separation of politics from economy and civil society has resulted in the embedding of the core trinity into how social change is constituted as political, economic or societal processes. Cities may be the ‘platforms’ on which the processes unfold but the idea of ‘urban process’ or ‘city as process’ are off the radar. Similarly, due to their origins in nineteenth century reform movements, the social sciences have been premised upon bounded spheres of human action – society, economy and polity are treated as inherently ‘national’. Thus the core trinity of the social sciences are the creations of, and subsequently the creatures of, the state. This embedding of social science in political space has produced ontological winners and losers that mimic the actual political winners and losers in the making of modernity: the centralization of states (winners) at the expense of, among others, the autonomy of cities (losers).
The nationalisation of social knowledge has had curious effects: for instance, urban studies in social science might have been marginal but this did not mean that understanding cities avoided the embedded statism. This is most clearly seen in the study of inter-city relations. The main research thrust in this area has been the national urban systems school which flourished from the late 1950s through to the early 1980s (Bourne and Simmons 1978). This research bounded cities; they were studied as ‘cities in states’. The result was that cities were arranged into ‘national urban hierarchies’ as if they had no relations to other cities beyond their state’s boundary. In this way, inter-city relations were deemed to reflect the practice of states as the organization of territory through hierarchies. Peter Hall’s (1966) The World Cities was a major exception to this state-centric urban studies but it was not until the 1980s that the current world cities school of research began in earnest. In this school, cities are interpreted as transnational social entities, the new economic foci as ‘cities in globalization’. Today, this school dominates how inter-city relations are understood.
Inevitably, there is much intellectual continuity between the national urban systems and world cities schools. The bounding has been removed but how the form of inter-city relations is conceived has been more resilient: ‘urban’ and ‘hierarchy’ continue to appear to be natural bedfellows, albeit at a grander scale. Quite simply, my view is that to get beyond the pernicious influence of social science on urban studies, it is necessary to transgress modernity. I interpret this to mean bringing in a geohistorical perspective that treats cities as transhistorical social entities. I have identified just such a lineage of twentieth century inter-city studies, the work of five authors briefly outlined below. This work has never constituted a rival ‘school’ of ideas but it seems to me that it provides a more appropriate antecedent for contemporary studies of cities in globalization than the national urban systems school. Never part of mainstream urban studies, nonetheless I argue that my selected authors, all social science ‘outsiders’ in their different ways, provide much intellectual raw material for contemporary global urban studies.
The five authors, Henri Pirenne, Fernand Braudel, John Hicks, Jane Jacobs and Giovanni Arrighi, share one critical interest, a historical curiosity about how cities have been party to critical social change. This is expressed as two related projects: first, as an analytical historical description of the rise of modern Europe through its cities (Pirenne, Braudel, Arrighi), and second, as development of a materialist theory of cities (Hicks, Jacobs). However, Pirenne, as the earliest of the authors, has the privileged position of providing the foundations to both projects.1
THE CITY TRAJECTORY TO MODERN EUROPE
History emerged as a modern discipline at about the same time as social science and has been equally state-centric through its telling of national stories. The resulting meta-history of Europe is essentially territorialist. It begins with the demise of the great Roman Empire (in the west) due to invasions by ‘tribes’ several of whom are deemed to have later become ‘modern nations’. The initial turmoil (the “Dark Ages”) gives way to a restitution of territorial order through reformulation of the ‘Roman Empire’ – symbolically Charlemagne crowned Emperor by the Pope in 800 – and creation of new kingdoms that, in various ways, lead eventually to the formation of modern nation-states. This is the ‘Europe of nations’, a spatial mosaic, that is currently undermining political integration of the European Union. Obviously this nationalist meta-history cannot be under-estimated for its political importance but it is not the only meta-history of Europe. There is an alternative network meta-history that may be more relevant to understanding contemporary globalization; it is a history of formation of city networks rather than nation-states.
The starting point is that it is incorrect to view the Roman Empire as a single territorial monolith; it was formed by a city-state and remained ‘legally, and in practice, a federation of city-states’ (Grimal 1982, 109). In the east these were old ‘allied cities’ tied to Rome through treaties, and in the west they were largely new colonial cities planted following conquest (p. 329). The result was a world-economy centred on the Mediterranean operating through inter-city networks of production and trade (Pirenne, 1969, chapter 1; Braudel 1984, 25, 33). It was this world that was invaded by Germanic tribes leading to the deposing of the last Roman Emperor in the west in 476. But for Pirenne (1969, 10) this political event was not a decisive episode because the Roman economy of cities continued (p. 12). This ‘Mediterranean commonwealth’, to use Pirenne’s phrase (p. 3, 10), only collapsed with the rise of Islam conquering the eastern, southern and western shores of the Mediterranean. This resulted in pushing the centre of post-Roman Europe northwards away from the old world-economy: the Carolingian empire of Charlemagne was ‘a closed state, a state without foreign markets, living in a condition of almost complete isolation’ (p. 29). The conclusion in terms of social change is inescapable: Charlemagne represents regression, not revival (p. 40). It can be shown that this was a delinked territorial backwater by comparison with eastern Europe where southern Russia centred on Kiev was expanding economically through links to Constantinople and Baghdad – the Russians had a trading quarter in the former, a concept inconceivable for Charlemagne’s Germans. Pirenne contrast’s Kiev with Charlemagne’s ‘capital’, Aix-la-Chapelle (p. 54). According to Barraclough (1979, 109), the latter was ‘in no sense a city’ having ‘a population of no more than two or three thousand’ before being destroyed by Vikings, which is in stark contrast to the Viking creation of Kiev as a great trading city (Price 2000) reaching a population estimated at 45,000 by 1000 (Chandler 1987, 15). In 1000 there was one city in western Europe comparable to Kiev - Venice. Also in Constantinople’s orbit, Venice was western Europe’s largest city at this time, also with an estimated population of 45,000 (Chandler 1987, 15). This is the source of the upturn in Europe’s trajectory in the network metahistory, in contrast to the privileging of Charlemagne in the conventional territorialist metahistory.
While the western Roman Emperor was resident in little Aix, the eastern Emperor was living in a Constantinople with a population estimated at 250, 000 in 800, rising to 300,000 in 1000 (Chandler 1987, 14, 15). Although in Italy, Venice was legally part of the latter empire, which provided a formal link to a massive urban market. It was the taking economic advantage of this political link that precipitated the rise of Venice as a great trading city (Pirenne 1969, 82-93). From Venice, commercial life spread to Lombardy in the tenth century (p. 87) to create what Braudel (1984, 96) calls the ‘southern pole’ – northern Italy - of the ‘first European world-economy’. The other, weaker, ‘northern pole’ - Flanders – was created by tenth century commercial links (the Viking Baltic Sea-Black Sea route) to Constantinople via Kiev. With merchant colonies gradually established in cities (Pirenne, 1969, 121) across both commercial poles this led to the Europe-wide commercial revival of the tenth and eleventh centuries that culminate in the thirteenth century ‘commercial revolution’ (Spufford 2002). In short, medieval Europe became ‘a region of cities’ (Pirenne 1925, 103).
The two ‘poles’ of this economic region were initially connected through a series of fairs at approximately the midpoint between them: the famous Champagne Fairs of the thirteenth century. An annual programme of six two-month fairs starting in Lagny-sur-Marne, moving on to Bar-sur-Aube, on to Provins, on to Troyes, back to Provins , and finally back to Troyes (Braudel 1984, 111). Each fair was divided into two periods, the first month was given over to commodity trading dominated by textiles moving from north to south, and second month was for financial transactions dominated by Italian bankers. Note that these temporary economic nodes were not major cities; they were just ‘fair towns’. But in their heyday they were ‘a rendezvous for the whole of Europe, for the offerings of both North and South’ (p. 111). However this arrangement collapsed in the fourteenth century recession to be replaced by direct links between the two poles: by ship from the Mediterranean direct to Bruges, and through opening up the eastern Alpine passes (St Gotthard and Brenner) to the Rhinelands and central Europe. Braudel has called the Champagne fairs ‘an interlude’ (p. 111), I prefer the term transition: from a ‘region of cities’ as two loosely connected urban zones to a European city network.
This new city network was an interlocking network, with ‘families’, ‘houses’, ‘nations’ and firms of traders and financiers present across the European cities to ‘interlock’ them into a cohesive network. For instance, in the fifteenth century the famous Medici Bank of Florence had branches in Venice, Genoa, Milan and Rome, plus representatives in London, Bruges, Geneva, and Lyons, plus a correspondent link in Lubeck (the chief city of the Hanseatic League) (Kindleberger 1993, 45-6). A century later, the equally famous Fuggers of Augsberg had 18 ‘factories’ across Europe from Denmark to Naples (p. 47). This was the inter-city network upon which modern Europe was subsequently built.
In debates over the ‘transition from feudalism to capitalism’ this commercial reality is often underplayed (Hilton 1976). I have tried to illustrate this directly in Table 1 in which European cities are evaluated in world terms. This statistical description of the Pirenne thesis shows that by 1300 Europe was a city-rich region and this was consolidated in subsequent centuries (Table 1). Using Chandler’s (1987, 513, 514) city population estimates, I can make the following statements. In 1400 (i.e. before the beginning of Wallerstein’s (1979) modern world-system), there were 18 western European cities with populations of 40,000 or more, all ranked in the top 80 cities worldwide. By 1500, this number had risen to 22 such large cities, also all within the world top 80. In other words, the urban legacy of medieval Europe to the European modern world-system was approximately one quarter of the leading cities in the world. And the derivation is Venetian not Roman, either in its classic or medieval imperial form.
It is Arrighi (1994), drawing heavily on Braudel (1984) and also Pirenne (1953), who brings Pirenne’s story forward into the modern world-system and through to contemporary globalization. He develops the concept of systematic cycles of accumulation to show how cities as international financial centres have steered the capitalist world economy (aka modern world-system). His starting point is the basic formula for individual investment of capital MCM’, where M is initial money capital, C is commodity capital (the investment) and M’ is the expanded money capital. Arrighi’s basic insight is to convert this formula into a collective description of capitalist development. Thus MCM’ defines a cycle of accumulation involving two phases, MC is a general conversion of flexible, fluid capital into commodity production to generate an epoch of material expansion. When the market for the commodities becomes problematic there is a general reversal to fluid flexible capital, CM’, creating an epoch of financial expansion. This can be illustrated by the ‘antecedent’ cycle of capital accumulation prior to the modern world-system in the fifteenth century in which the cities referred to in the previous paragraph operated. The MC phase lasted to mid-century, and was an era of inter-city cooperation as cities developed niches in expanding divisions of labour and shared knowledge to reduce risks. The CM’ phase of trade contraction resulted initially in inter-city competition (notably the Venice-Genoa war) for pieces of the smaller commercial cake. But incessant war provides new outlets for capital (Venice and Milan make war tools) and Medici Florence flourishes as an international financial centre: ‘high finance’ is invented. With these new outlets for capital, ‘a new kind of cooperation’ (p. 93) arises. Thus the fifteenth century fits the MCM’ model as a cycle of capital accumulation.
Arrighi (1994) identifies four overlapping systematic accumulation cycles in the capitalist world-economy: the Genoese cycle from the late fifteenth century to the early sixteenth century, the Dutch cycle from the late sixteenth century through the eighteenth century, the British cycle from the second half of the eighteenth century to the early twentieth century, and the American cycle from the late nineteenth century to the present. The Genoese cycle is least known because of the separation of political and economic leadership – the dichotomous agency consisted of Iberian protection/power alongside Genoese trade/profit. The inter-city relations (Genoa, Venice, Milan, Florence, Lyons, Augsburg, Seville, Antwerp) were ‘basically cooperative’ in the first half of the sixteenth century but this changed with the financial crisis of 1557 after which Genoa managed Spain’s permanent financial crisis as part of its ‘discrete rule over Europe’ (Braudel 1984, 164). The international financial centres that followed Genoa all conform to a geographical arrangement that modernity has conditioned us to expect - the congruence of economic and political functions within the same sovereign territory: Genoa/Iberia is followed by Amsterdam/Dutch Republic, London/UK and New York/USA respectively. These latter three states are the hegemonic states whose cycles define the modern world-system (Wallerstein 1984, chapter 4; Arrighi 1990, 1994, chapter 1) culminating in three episodes of financial prowess. Thus they are closely related to the accumulation cycles. Of particular relevance here, however, is Braudel’s (1984) interpretation this cyclical sequence as a movement from city-centred economies to state-centred economies (with the Amsterdam/Dutch arrangement a ‘half-way house’ (p. 175)): I will have more to say about this reading of social change in the next section.
For Arrighi, the contemporary relevance of his model is that current descriptions of recent restructuring of the world-economy can be seen through this historical perspective as not at all unique. For instance, Harvey’s (1989) historical transition from Fordism-Keynesianism to flexible accumulation, which overcomes rigidity leading to financialization of capital, is the latest CM’ phase, another epoch of financial expansion, the latest ‘rebirth’ of capital (Arrighi 1994, 4). From my perspective, there is a second important implication of the model. As economic globalization has provided new outlets for capital, the competitive phase of inter-city relations that dominated the 1970s and 1980s (generally, bad times for cities) has given way to a new cooperation (since 1990, there have been good times for cities). The outcome is a contemporary world city network (Taylor 2004).
TOWARD A MATERIALIST THEORY OF INTER-CITY RELATIONS
Pirenne, Braudel and Arrighi are primarily concerned for understanding the concrete historical ordering of social change; Hicks (1969) and Jacobs (1970, 1984) are, perhaps, more abstract in their use of city activities to elucidate social change. This is to simplify greatly because these sources inter-relate: Jacobs explicitly uses Pirenne’s thesis in her work and Arrighi draws on Hicks’ work. But this is good because it means that any semblance to a materialist theory of inter-city relations I derive from Hicks and Jacobs will be easily related to cities in history.
The useful section of Hick’s (1969) work for my purpose here is his description of the working of a mercantile economy. He identifies the key agents as traders and when there are enough merchants to form a community they constitute a mercantile economy centred on cities. Why cities? This is explained in what he calls his ‘pure theory of commercial development’ (p. 62). He starts with two traders and two regions, each with a surplus of a different good. The inter-regional trade exchanging the goods is a voluntary trade leading to “All-round Advantage” (p. 44): consumers in each region get a new good, traders develop two new markets and can make high profits. How can such a simple commercial arrangement be expanded? Obviously the traders can invest in more of the goods to sell but the catch is that their profits are automatically squeezed: they increase demand in each region-as-supplier thus raising the price they buy at, while increasing supply in each region-as-market thus reducing the price they sell at. If simple trade leads to diminishing returns then investment must be made elsewhere, to a different trade. But this requires new contacts and new knowledge: enter cities to provide a level of trade diversification to get around the diminishing returns. In addition, cities make for efficient trade expansion; there are also increasing returns for trade with size. The key point is that Hicks identifies two types of Marshall’s external economies: ‘There are some which arise from the expansion of the individual city... or trading centre; and there are some that arise from the multiplication of trading centres’ (p. 47). Both benefits are in reducing costs and risks by pooling knowledge. The first is an ‘intra-city type’ of external economy defining economic clusters in cities, the second is an ‘inter-city type’ defining economic networks of cities. Thus both cities and inter-city relations are derived as necessary for the expansion of profit in trade.
For Hicks (1969) this conclusion is about the operation of the mercantile economy, which is just part of a model of ‘economic states of society’ (p. 6). His theory of economic history moves from customary and command (non-market) economies through to mercantile economies (in the era of city-states) before markets penetrating different spheres of activity culminating in the modern industrial economy (in nation-states). Thus, here again there is the assumed economic transition from city-state to territorial state that was noted in Braudel and Arrighi above. But does the formation of large states, taking over cities, really result in the ‘economy’ automatically ‘moving up’ to the state level? An answer can be found in an early study of fifteenth century state centralization (at the expense of cities) by Braudel (1972, 309):
‘The victorious states could not take control of and responsibility for everything. They were cumbersome machines inadequate to handle their new superhuman tasks. The so-called territorial economy of textbook classification could not stifle the so-called urban economy. The cities remained the driving forces. States that included these cities had to come to terms with them and tolerate them. The relationship was accepted the more naturally since even the most independent cities needed the use of the space belonging to territorial states.’
Although the contemporary state is very different to the early modern state, they are still quite ‘cumbersome machines’ when it comes to expanding economic life, which remains a ‘superhuman task’. This is Jane Jacobs’ (1984) view, with which I completely concur. She argues that states ‘are political and military entities’ and there is therefore no reason to assume that they are also ‘the basic salient entities of economic life’ (p.31). This idea that states define economies she calls the ‘mercantilist tautology’ since it derives from early modern economic theories but it has been subsequently accepted as the unexamined premise of all schools of economic thought. In contrast, Jacobs argues that cities and city-regions are the basic entities of economic life and therefore it follows that so-called ‘national economies’ are ‘grab bags’ of different city economies brought together by political sovereignty (p.32). Interestingly Jacobs comes to this position through using Pirenne’s thesis on the Venetian origins of an ‘urban Europe’. But this idea that the national economy is a myth does cause a rethink for Braudel’s and Arrighi’s transition from city to national economy. The three ‘hegemonic states’ that were the United Provinces, Kingdom, and States were the product of vibrant cities that do not add up to the whole so-called ‘national economy: hegemony was produced largely in the cities of central and southern Holland (not, for instance, in the outer provinces of Gelderland, Overijssel, Friesland and Grongingen), largely in the industrial cities of northern Britain (not, for instance, in the outer reaches of western Ireland, northern Scotland and central Wales), and largely in the ‘manufacturing belt’ of the USA (not, for instance, in the American ‘South’). Concentrations of dynamic cities prospering through both intra-city and inter-city externalities create economic leadership, not states although the latter will be in a position to exploit the situation politically.
Jacobs (1970) begins where Hicks finishes: ‘A city seems always to have implied a group of cities, in trade with one another’ (p. 35). Cities are distinguished from other settlements not simply by size, their essence is their ‘more complicated and diverse’ economies (p. 50). This collection of economic complexities enables economic expansion to occur through the ‘immense, even awesome, economic force’ that is import replacement (p. 150). Import replacement combines the ‘little movements at the hubs’ (Hicks’ intra-city externalities) with the ‘great wheels of economic life’ (Hicks’ inter-city externalities). For Jacobs, the decline of the Roman world (in the west) was precisely because this combination ceased (as Pirenne showed) (p. 176). And, again following Pirenne, it was only when Venice was able to replace imports from Constantinople (p. 174), and then Lombardy cities replace imports from Venice, that the ‘great wheels of commerce’ began to operate once more in western Europe. Jacobs describes in detail (chapter 5) how this process operates and I will not explain it here except to note that it is premised on economic growth and inter-city cooperation and thus is consistent with Arrighi’s argument on changing forms of inter-city relations. Her ideas have been used as the theoretical base for understanding the contemporary world city network (Taylor 2004, chapter 2).
The theoretical contributions of Hicks and Jacobs are similar but distinctive; the former shows the advantages of cities for commercial activities, the latter discovers the city mechanism that expands economic life. They are similar because neither treats cities as agents; the processes are created by economic agents – merchants, firms – who create intra-city clusters and inter-city relations whilst doing their routine work. This must be the correct starting point for a materialist theory of inter-city relations: as shown historically above, city networks are interlocking networks and this is how I have specified the contemporary world city network (Taylor 2001), produced and reproduced by global service firms operating as ‘interlockers’ (Taylor, 2004). The dissimilarities between Hicks and Jacobs are in the way they move from agent to urban outcome. For Hicks, the city outcome is abstractly derived but made historically contingent – city economies are transcended by national industrial economies. Jacobs, however, produces a more fundamental argument so that cities transcend states transhistorically. Both arguments can be accommodated to contemporary economic globalization: using Hicks there is a ‘return of the city’ (not city-state) because global business requires the transnational externalities that can only be found in world/global cities; using Jacobs, cities never ‘went away’ as critical economic entities but now the national mask is lowered to reveal import replacement through cities generating a global space of flows that is economic globalization. Both positions are far superior to an ‘upscaling from the national’ interpretation of globalization but, choosing between them, I subscribe to the Jacobs position.
CONCLUSION: PROCESS BEYOND THE SOCIAL SCIENCE TRINITY
In this brief discussion my intension has been to initiate an alternative basis for studying inter-city relations that is both superior to the national urban systems legacy and appears plausible under conditions of contemporary globalization. By plausible I mean that the argument is more than ‘urban study’, it is process-based and therefore credible in the traditional social science disciplinary sense. But the ideas I have introduced are outside this disciplinary mind-set: the process I deal with is not any of the economic, political and societal processes that define the social science trinity. Going beyond the trinity is made possible because ‘process’ is no longer divorced from ‘physical’ time or space (Hubbard et al 2004). The lineage I have defined is a social time, it results from social activities but also moulds those activities. Similarly, social processes create social spaces, and vice versa. They cannot be separated. Castells (1996, 386) is most explicit on this when he argues that a city is ‘not a place but a process’. In other words, economic, political and societal change does not happen in cities; they happen through cities: they are shaped by cities and in turn they shape cities. Hence this does not imply yet another call for ‘inter-disciplinary’ research, rather it is, in the spirit of Wallerstein (1979, ix), a uni-disciplinary argument for a single geohistorical social science through which to build a credible understanding of both cities and globalization.
Arrighi, G (1990) ‘The three hegemonies of historical capitalism’ review (Fernand Braudel) 13, 365-408
Arrighi, G (1994) The Long Twentieth Century, Money, Power and the Origin of our Times. London: Verso
Bairoch, P (1988) Cities and Economic Development. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
Barraclough, G (1979) The Times Atlas of World History. London: Times Books
Bourne, L S and Simmons, J W (eds) (1978) Systems of Cities. New York: Oxford University Press
Braudel, F (1972) The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Phillip II, Volume 1. London: Collins
Braudel, F (1984) The Perspective of the World. London: Collins
Castells, M (1996) The Rise of Network Society. Oxford: Blackwell
Chandler, T (1987) Four Thousand Years of Urban Growth: an Historical Census. Lewiston: Edwin Mellen
Grimal, P (1983) Roman Cities. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press
Hall, P (1966) The World Cities. London: Heinnemann
Hansen, M G (2000) ‘Introduction: the concepts of city-state and citystate culture’ in M G Hansen (ed) A Comparative Study of Thirty City-State Cultures. Copenhagen: Historisk-filosofiske Skrifter 21
Hivighurst, A E (ed) (1958/1976) The Pirenne Thesis: Analysis, Criticism, and Revision. Boston: Heath
Hicks, J (1969) A Theory of Economic History. Oxford: Clarendon
Hilton, R (ed) (1976) The Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism. London: Verso
Hubbard, P, Kitchen, R and Valentine, G (2004) ‘Editor’s introduction’ in P Hubbard, R Kitchen and G Valentine (eds) Key Thinkers on Space and Place. Beverly Hills: Sage
Jacobs, J (1970) The Economy of Cities. New York: Vintage
Jacobs, J (1984) Cities and the Wealth of Nations. New York: Vintage
Pirenne, H (1925) Medieval Cities: Their Origins and the Revival of Trade. Princeton: Princeton University Press
Pirenne, H (1953) ‘Stages in the social history of capitalism’ in R Bendix and S Lipset (eds) Class, Status and Power: a Reader in Social Stratification. Glencoe, Il: Free Press
Price, N (2000) ‘Novgorod, Kiev and their satellites; the city-state model and the Viking age politics of European Russia’ in M H Hansen (ed) A Comparative Study of Thirty City-State Cultures. Copenhagen: Historisk-filosofiske Skrifter 21
Spufford, P (2002) The Merchant in Medieval Europe. London: Thames and Hudson
Spruyt, H (1994) The Sovereign State and its Competitors. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press
Taylor, P J (2001) ‘Specification of the world city network’, Geographical Analysis 33, 181-94
Taylor, P J (2004) World City Network: a Global Urban Analysis. London: Routledge
Van Werveke, H (1963) ‘The rise of the towns’, in M Poston, E Rich and E Miller (eds) The Cambridge Economic History of Europe, vol 3, 3-41
Verhulst, A (1989) ‘The origin of towns in the Low Countries and the Pirenne thesis’, Past and Present, 122, 3-35
Wallerstein, I (1979) The Capitalist World-Economy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Wallerstein, I (1984) Politics of the World-Economy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
1I appreciate that Pirenne’s work on cities has been the source of much controversy over the years both with historians (Hivighurst 1958/1976; Van Werveke 1963); Verhulst 1989) and, in association with Jacobs, with social scientists (Bairoch 1988; Hansen 2000). This prologue is not the place to rehearse this debate: I take the position of Spruyt (1994, 61-2) that Pirenne’s ‘thesis regarding the connection between urbanization and trade has stood the test of time’.
Table 1: The rise of city-rich medieval Europe, 1000-1500
Source: populations and rankings are derived from Chandler (1987) and include all European cities with populations estimated at 40,000 and above. The choice of this threshold is forced upon me by the data but nevertheless seems to be a reasonable size to define major cities at these times. European cities are from ‘western Christendom’, i.e omitting Islamic Iberia and orthodox eastern Europe.
Edited and posted on the web on 10th August 2005
Note: This Research Bulletin has been published in PJ Taylor, B Derudder, P Saey and F Witlox (eds) (2007) Cities in Globalization: Practices, Policies and Theories London: Routledge, pp. 1-12