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The Distinctive City: Divergent Patterns in Growth, Hierarchy and Specialisation

Ann Markusen and Greg Schrock
Additional contact information
Ann Markusen: Urban and Regional Policy Program, Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, 301 S. 19th Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA, markusen@umn.edu
Greg Schrock: Center for Urban Economic Development, University of Illinois at Chicago, 400 S. Peoria Street, Chicago, IL 60607, USA, gschro2@uic.edu

Urban Studies, 2006, vol. 43, issue 8, 1301-1323

Abstract: With accelerated world market integration, cities compete with each other cities as sites of production and consumption, targeting firms and households as semi-autonomous location decision-makers. Distinction may be sought in productive structure, consumption and identity. In this paper, contradictory trends towards homogenisation and distinctiveness are theorised. Studying the occupational structure of 50 large US metropolitan areas, it is found that distinctiveness has been increasing in economic base occupations though some heavily blue-collar cities' edge is eroding. Employment in consumption activities has been growing faster than in the economic base and cities are becoming more alike in consumption structure. It is concluded that the search for niches in exporting sectors and related occupational mix is key to urban resurgence.

Date: 2006
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