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Chapter 4 – Globalization, Entrepreneurial Cities, and the Social Economyi - page 1 / 12

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Chapter 4 – Globalization, Entrepreneurial Cities, and the Social Economyi

Bob Jessop

Globalization has a multitude of contested meanings. Moreover, considered as an allegedly existing process, it lacks any clear causal status. This makes it hard to relate globalization to cities and social movements -- especially as the natures of cities and social movements are themselves disputed. These difficulties have shaped the order of argument in the following discussion. First, before addressing entrepreneurial cities and the scope they might offer to social movements to expand the social economy, I offer some general remarks on the 'chaotic concept' of globalization. I also comment on some of the complex processes which are currently shaping globalization. The second topic is the highly mediated, but nonetheless real, relationship between globalization and the changing economic and social problems said to confront mature welfare states in advanced capitalist societies. After considering the specific ideal-typical features of these welfare states, the emerging features of a new type of welfare regime are briefly discussed. These economic and social problems and their reflection in new forms of economic and social reproduction are especially evident in cities. Thus a third concern is the rise of so-called 'entrepreneurial cities' in response to the manifold crisis of Atlantic Fordism and their efforts to maintain or enhance their position in an intensifying inter-urban competition. A fourth topic is the limits to any and all attempts to enhance the competitiveness of cities within the framework of a globalizing economy. Even successful cities face problems in this regard; and, of course, there are always losers in this process too. One response to these problems provides the focus for the fifth part of the chapter: the renewed interest on the part of some social movements and some urban authorities in the social economy. The concluding section offers some general observations on the role of the social economy in the re-scaling of economic and social life within a global society.

Globalization: chaotic concept, chaotic process

The first task is to deconstruct the 'chaotic concept' of globalization. The latter is often treated in both theoretical and empirical studies as if it were a distinctive and singular causal process in its own right. But such accounts typically fail to grasp the quite varied forms in which this process occurs and the different understandings which motivate key actors in their approach to globalization (for a recent review of these complexities, see Ruigrok and van Tulder 1995). They ignore the extent to which globalization is the complex resultant of many different forces and processes -- processes occurring on various spatial and temporal scales and originating in widely dispersed places and/or networks of places. They neglect the extent to which globalization involves complex and tangled causal hierarchies rather than a simple, unilinear, bottom-up or top-down movement as well as the extent to which globalization is always a contingent product of tendencies and counter-tendencies. And they overlook the extent to which globalization typically involves an eccentric 'interpenetration' of different scales of social organization rather than their simple 'nesting' in the manner of Russian dolls.

These problems can be avoided by taking a fresh look at globalization in four respects. First, we need to distinguish between the structural and strategic dimensions of globalization. Whereas the former dimension refers to the extent to which there is growing global interdependence (covariation) among actions on different scales, the latter refers to the extent to which actors themselves adopt global horizons of action. Second, rather than considering globalization in isolation, it should be understood in terms of its complex interrelation with trends on other spatial scales. These include such trends as localization, regionalization, 'triadization', the growth of cross-border linkages, and the development of transnational urban networks. Third, we must recognize the multi-centric nature of globalization, especially with the recent challenge of several East Asian economies to the global hegemonic pretensions of Western Europe and North Americaii. And, fourth, we must distinguish the different social fields or domains in which globalization is said to be occurring. This is especially important since the driving forces and the relative balance of tendencies and counter-tendencies typically vary across different domains.

Structurally, globalization in a specific domain can be said to exist in so far as the covariation of relevant activities becomes more global in extent and/or the speed of such covariation on a global scale increases. This sort of covariation is linked to the stretching of social relations over time and space so that they can be coordinated over longer periods of time (including into the ever more distant future) and over longer distances, greater areas, or more scales of activity. As well as 'time-space distantiation', however, globalization involves new forms of 'time-space compression'. This involves the intensification of 'discrete' events in real timeiii and/or the increased velocity of material and immaterial flows over a given distance. 'Time-space compression' is tied to material and social technologies that enable control to be exercised more precisely over ever shorter periods in 'real time' and that enable 'space to

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