Accepted paper:

City-state destruction and city re-creation in the transition from trade- to production-based development


Alan Shipman (The Open University)

Paper short abstract:

While initial industrialisation depends on nation-states breaking mercantile cities' protected civic spaces, sustained development requires cities' re-assertion of a new type of civic space, with characteristics diametrically opposed to the old and significance often lost by eliding the two types.

Paper long abstract:

It is widely agreed that cities play a unique role in economic development, partly through their creation of civic space (for emergence of free markets) and property rights (for entrepreneurialism). But researchers still divide between identifying autonomous city-states as guarantors of development, and viewing destruction of big cities' wealth and power concentrations by the nation-state as essential for moving mercantile into industrial capitalism. This paper (drawing especially on Adam Smith, Jane Jacobs, Sheilagh Ogilvie and Michael Postan alongside contemporary observation) challenges both views' assumption of a three-stage progression from village to city to nation-state - arguing that, for continued development, new (industrial/post-industrial) cities must re-assert power within the nation-state after pre-industrial cities are subordinated to it. While initial industrialisation requires central government to capture and break up the restrictive civic space of pre-industrial cities (based on trading and rent-extraction), industrial advance requires production-based cities to carve-out power from central government, creating new civic space that is often held back by persistence of the old. 'New' developmental cities differ from their more static predecessors in terms of citizenship and residency, relationship to rural hinterland, property-rights assignment, rent/investment-income balance, international trade dependence, degree of specialisation, labour markets, extent of finance-commerce-industry-government-church integration, and relationship to central government or ruling elites. Patterns of European and North American industrialisation can be traced to the fall of their city-states and rise of new city-regions, while obstacles to disempowering 'old' or establishing 'new' forms of urban civic space emerge as blockages in other regions' development.

panel G2
What does changing civic space mean for development?