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ENVS 2200 Lecture Notes - World-Systems Theory, Global City, Joe Feagin

Environmental Studies
Course Code
ENVS 2200
Stefan Kipfer

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Muniba AbdulAziz
Week 3 Tut.3
Global Urbanization I
Rodriguez and Feagin explain the advancement of economies in financial and industrial
sectors giving rise to global cities. They talk about the three stages of capitalistic
development, mercantile, industrial and monopoly. When cities specialize in certain types
of economic activities its called urban specialization. Three hegemonies are discussed of
the Dutch, England and USA. The Dutch specialized in textile, they created conditions
that facilitated private enterprise and promoted immigration of business entrepreneurship.
The British specialized in cotton and when steam engines made coal important that
boosted the economy even more, again increasing immigration of labor. This also caused
capitalist from Europe and USA to travel to London to get funds for a range of
enterprises, making it the central financial function in world economy. Lastly, USA
specialized in the oil industry that supported the steel industry to office work. Also there
was great privatization and foreign investment in Latin America.
The excerpt by Yeong-Hyun Kim and John Rennie Short explains the various trades
goods and mercantile roles of trading in the middle ages. It is explained, that
European countries trading with each other in a nomadic way progressed into urban cities
soon. Later in the 17 century, the Dutch East Asia Company formed a monopoly in
trading. Over 7 million investors were involved with the company which gave it much
powerful, including “right to wage war, sign treaties, construct fortifications and
encourage settlement to increase commerce and profit.” The trading that once was
individual and free has now become privatized, giving more power to industrialists.
The development of urban specialization is the direct result in the development of global
cities. Since the world has become greatly globalized due to the supply and demand of all
countries becoming dependent on each other. I believe urban globalization and
privatization has created our capitalistic economy, whose growth now threatens the
depletion of natural resources of the world. The two reading states different ways in
which economies got power and how that power was transferred to private industrialists
and financial investor who seem to control the policies now. More growth will only cause
a decline in our natural resources and so the fight is against the privatized industrialists.
How can we do this without having the support of the government who are actually
supporting and encouraging globalization? Can we as environmentalists introduce a
middle way to encourage de-growth and less globalization whereas now everything
including the World Wide Web is only making people more and more globalized?
1. Nestor Rodriguez and Joe Feagin, “Urban Specialization in the World System: An
Investigation of Historical Cases” in Neil Brenner/Roger Keil eds. The Global
Cities Reader (London: Routledge, 2006) 32-41.
2. Yeong-Hyun Kim and John Rennie Short, “Mercantile Cities and Europeans
Colonialism”, The rise and fall of industrial cities”, Cities and Economies
(London: Routledge, 2008) 13-32
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