Skip to main content

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 8)

Unopposed, splintering leads to a series of increasingly defensible networks and enclaves, promulgating the concept of bypass on a global scale. Evidence in the book supports this result; there is an undeniable connection between infrastructure, technology, and social change.

However, our authors make a number of caveats to the examples put forward in the preceding chapters. First, it is important for academia to place splintering urbanism within a wider urban and historical context. Likewise, it is necessary to be wary of the risk oversimplification of splintering; the cases in the book only represent the most visible and extreme examples of the trend. Most splintering occurs in more subtle, yet complex, ways and can vary dramatically across different types of infrastructure systems.

Further, it is also important to realize that customized, unbundled urban infrastructure is not a new concept. Socioeconomic enclaves have long been present in cities. As such, Graham and Marvin warn against the dangers of romanticizing the modern infrastructure ideal, as its core paradigm involved marginalization of several groups.

Premium network spaces and glocal enclaves also face a number challenges to their efficacy. Premium networks fostered by powerful coalitions trying to construct purified private spaces - must continue to maintain connectivity with the wider foundation of public infrastructure networks to ensure technological mobility. Similarly, glocal enclaves need to retain their connections with the wider city. They depend on the various inputs of outside labor as well as legitimization under the umbrella of a broader regulatory system.

Yet another limit is the general diversity in the network, which dictates that perfect control (i.e. perfect exclusion) will be impossible or extremely costly. The present diversity of cities is too powerful to be simply separated out. Most importantly, the tools of exclusion can also foster strategies of resistance to urban splintering some spaces are simply too diverse to be effectively controlled by disciplinary efforts and will act as reactionary, defensive bastions of public control.