Urban geography: urban growth machine

Rodgers, Scott (2009). Urban geography: urban growth machine. In: Kitchin, Rob and Thrift, Nigel eds. International encyclopedia of human geography. Oxford, UK: Elsevier.

URL: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/bookdescription.c...


Urban growth machine is an influential thesis of urban politics that suggests the objective of growth unites otherwise pluralistic interests in relation to a city. The thesis is situated within a broader theory about the commodification of place, where place is understood to be socially and economically valued land. Its key premise is that coalitions of actors and organizations (i.e. growth machines), all sharing an interest in local growth and its effects on land values, compete with growth machines elsewhere for scarce mobile capital investment, while simultaneously attempting to gain the tacit support of local publics for such urban growth.

Following an introductory overview, this entry discusses the urban growth machine in two main parts. The first part sets out the key concepts underlying the growth machine thesis: use value, exchange value and place; place entrepreneurs; growth machines and their allies; competing for mobile capital; and promoting growth as a public good. The second part identifies core issues and debates in relation to the thesis (particularly those made by human geographers), including critiques of: the property focus; the human agency focus; difficulties with international comparison; the conceptualization of local dependency and scale; and the relationship of political projects with local feeling.

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