ABSTRACT

In this contribution, Richard Child Hill and June Woo Kim (National University of Singapore) elaborate a comparative analysis of economic restructuring and urban development in Tokyo and Seoul. Whereas Hill’s work on Detroit and Houston (see Ch. 13) applied certain key arguments of global city theory to the comparative investigation of those two cities, this analysis of Tokyo and Seoul adopts a more critical perspective on this approach. In a section of their article that could not be reproduced here, Hill and Kim develop a detailed critique of major global city theorists, such as Saskia Sassen and John Friedmann, for a purported tendency to overgeneralize the effects of globalization upon urban structures (Hill and Kim 2001). Against this alleged assumption of “convergence,” Hill and Kim insist upon the highly variegated national and local pathways of urban restructuring that are crystallizing under contemporary capitalism. In this context, Hill and Kim also insist that the developmental trajectories of East Asian cities are profoundly shaped by national state institutions, which continue to channel significant resources into urban growth (see also Ch. 44 by Ren and Ch. 16 by Wu). For Hill and Kim, the existence of these activist, developmental states in East Asian cities differentiates them qualitatively from the supposedly paradigmatic cases of New York and London, and thus undermines the applicability of global city theory beyond the “market centered” urban systems of the Anglo-American world.