Space, Technologies and Populations in the New Metropolis

  • Guido Martinotti


The future of our cities lies in their past, but most of all in their present. This is not a jeu-de-mots but a central tenet of these reflections. And one, I surmise, that should not be forgotten anytime we try to look into possible developments involving the habitat of a majority of the human species. The city, says Anthony Giddens, “displays a specious continuity with pre-existing social orders” (Giddens, 1990: 6). Specious, but nonetheless a continuity. Changes occur perennially, most of the time by stalagmitical accretion, and occasionally by brutal events, but the city is not an ephemeral phenomenon, neither physically nor socially. The built-environment is highly expensive and resilient, and its sociological structure is strongly supported by macro-variables such as optimum location and central-place factors or the presence and actions of social actors, classes, élites, and institutions with their intergenerational interests, collective memory and culture. Thus we should expect to be able to read the future of cities in general, and of European cities in particular, by observing processes already at work.


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  1. 1.
    See Elisabeth Lichtenberger, “The Changing Nature of European Urbanization”, in Brian J.L.Berry (Ed), Urbanization and Counter-urbanization, Urban Affairs Annual Review, 11, Sage, Beverly Hills 1976, pp. 81–107. Exp. p.97: European city growth is deeply influenced by the specific administrative structure of the rural areas.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    I translate to English from the Italian rendition: „Abbattuto dall’artiglieria pesante dei tenui prezzi délie merci“. See Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, „Il manifesto del partito comunista“ in Opere scelte a cura di Luciano Gruppi, Editori Riuniti, Roma 1971, p. 294.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    With this term I do not refer to the distinction between use value and exchange value of the city, such as adopted by John R. Logan and Harvey Molotch, Urban Fortunes. The political Economy of Places, University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles 1987, although a good deal of my reasoning seems to go in the same direction.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften | GWV Fachverlage GmbH, Wiesbaden 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Guido Martinotti
    • 1
  1. 1.Cattedra di Sociologia urbanaUniversità degli studi di Milano-BicoccaItalia

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