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Chapter Summary

Graham, Stephen and Simon Marvin. 2001. Splintering Urbanism: Networked Infrastructures, Technological Mobilities, and the Urban Condition. London, UK and New York, NY: Routledge. (Chapter 7)

Graham and Marvin introduce the concept of the archipelago economy, a group of internationally-connected spaces that transcend established constraints of scale and separation (core vs. periphery, North vs. South) to become technologically- and economically-integrated cities. These interconnected enclaves are increasingly concentrated centers of value-added services and knowledge, becoming the favored spaces for investment. As such, these zones are subject to the aforementioned tunnel effect, as global capital bypasses other places deemed less profitable.

A number of key players are responsible for this glocalization of infrastructure and urban economics. The first is the state, which has come to accept the role of broker rather than regulator. Urban development and planning agencies also foster glocalization by developing myriad innovative strategies in order to compete with other areas to attract and retain capital. Such developments include high-rise office towers, convention centers, industrial parks, and special-purpose private corporate zones. Real estate capital, a third key player, guides infrastructure investments and value speculation, thus impacting growth policies. Multinational companies and investment entities collectively, the fourth player - assess and control infrastructure price, quality, and reliability. Their mobility gives them the power and leverage over the other players in the glocalization arena.

Similar to Chapter Six, the latter half of the chapter is dedicated to exploring examples of these new economic spaces. Our authors point out financial service zones (Manhattan and London), the industrial high-tech spaces (Silicon Valley and Cambridge), multimedia enclaves (Hollywood and New Yorks Silicon Alley), back office centers for data processing and call centers (New Castle), and customized logistic zones (Singapore-Johor-Rian triangle and North Carolina Global Trans-park). There are also economic centers which possess all of these features, such as Chinas Pearl River Delta (which combines Macau, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen).

As the splintering process allows high-powered glocal spaces to economically transcend from the periphery, we are witnessing a new countermovement. To compensate for the loss of the cross-subsidies and the universal services that the modern ideal once provided, the excluded periphery areas are also splintering. Micro-level entrepreneurship and local political/social movements are trying to fill in the gaps left by the lack of central planning, attempting to provide essential infrastructure themselves.