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Baseline envision #2: ‘Somewhere versus anywhere’

Around the world there are strong reactions to the path of globalization, networking and mobility. It seems there is a human need for locality, local environments and local communities: and if these needs are not met they can break out populist or nationalist movements, bringing social division and economic harm.

The localism principle is supported by well-meaning policies and plans, and by expert advice from researchers. But there are tensions and contradictions between a local and a globalized economy and mobile society. The forces pushing outwards are often more powerful than those pulling in. There are emerging global platform economies, advanced VR and robotics, high speed responsive travel systems, decentralized infrastructure, and diffused social and family structures. All these point towards a future of ad-hoc low-density urban sprawl, populated by transients and migrant workers. This is summarized as ‘somewhere versus anywhere’ (from the book by David Goodhart), or, ‘the battle for the urban zone’.

Domains – what is the dynamic?

  • Environmental values and qualities bring the local into focus, but they are equally used to attract global mobile workers and residents.
  • Economic forces push toward globalized markets and networks, but there are opposite pulls towards local economies and social enterprise.
  • Political and policy systems try to respond, via multi-level governance and citizen participation, but the structures are not well suited to the problems.
  • Urban agendas: locality versus mobility: new patterns of growth and decline.

Actors – who is involved?

  • Local citizens and users of local environments
  • Mobile and globalized workers and entrepreneurs
  • Policy makers and urban planners
  • Infrastructure providers

Factors  – how does the system work?

  • The urban development metabolism, is seen as a processor of value-added, moving up the value hierarchy, towards globalized gravity fields for skilled labour and consumer markets.

Overall challenges:

Urban policy here faces more than one ‘Nexus’ of tensions and dilemmas:

  • Tensions between migration and mobility, linking local jobs to local people, and the role of the multi-local educated / creative / globalized classes,
  • Tensions between greenspace / urban zone policy: and the dynamics of mobility, creatives, and the regional imbalances of skills and investment.

What do we know?

These are the most relevant topics in this Envision: click on each to visit>>

  • Is urbanization the ruin of countryside? (Tervo-10)
  • Do People Follow Jobs or Do Jobs Follow People? : The Case of Finland. (Tervo-07)
  • Changing regional/urban structures as challenges in regional planning. (Mäntysalo-07)
  • Urban fabrics in Finnish urban regions – walking, public transport, automobile fabrics (Nissinen-11)
  • Services in urban form: (Nissinen-10)
  • Citizens in urban development (Häkli-04)
  • Urban sustainability: is densification sufficient? (Naess-06)