, Volume 51, Issue 1–2, pp 65–71 | Cite as

European capital cities as political frontiers

  • Gertjan Dijkink


The capital is the centre of the established order but it always had to accept a relatively uncontrollable world of individuals redefining urban space in their own way or pioneering new means of support. As their existence is both a political nuisance and a foreshadowing of institutional changes (sometimes revolutionary) of nation-wide importance, I call such ways of life political frontiers. One may wonder what will become of political frontiers in the information society (or ‘postmodern’ society) that, apart from borderless, has been described as ‘society without a centre’ as well. Actually information society is the prototype of a frontier society with self-responsible groups and individuals. However, capitals – even stripped of their governmental functions – may offer a symbolical environment (a condensation of space and time) that precisely satisfies the wants of those who wish to politicise a way of life. Niches for pioneering behaviour may get dispersed over a wider territory but new types of political activity will gravitate to the capital even if the capital's official political status has dwindled.

new social movements capital cities information society protest political geography 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gertjan Dijkink
    • 1
  1. 1.Amsterdam Study Centre for the Metropolitan Environment (AME), Department of Geography and PlanningUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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