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July 21, 2006

Are cities the new countries?

photo of London from the BBC website

According to some sociologists who study cities, the cultural and political realities of the world's mega-cities are changing so fast that they've reached the point where they have more in common with each other than with the countries in which they happen to be located. Check out this quote from sociologist Richard Sennett:

"The most important place to London is New York and to New York is London and Tokyo," Prof Sennett says. "London belongs to a country composed of itself and New York."

Mega-city leaders are increasingly wondering why they have to put up with the financial burden of dealing with their enclosing state or nation...they provide the lion's share of the jobs, wealth, and culture, why shouldn't they get more political autonomy in return?

Cities like Shanghai already have a huge amount of independence...expect more from places like London, Mumbai, and New York. And a growing sense of outrage from the rural areas, and from national governments faced with their cities acting more and more like recalcitrant teens. The BBC's weekly Magazine program has been covering this issue.

Posted by Chris Spurgeon at July 21, 2006 09:15 PM