Boundary Work

Planetary Urbanisation

The idea of ‘Planetary Urbanisation’ was first theorised by Lefebvre (1970) through his work on ‘The Urban Revolution’, whereby the post-industrial explosion of urban society globally would create ‘complete urbanism’ worldwide and conceptualizations of the urban were needed to explain society itself. The stretching of social networks with an increase in megacities creates an urban world whereby there is no ‘outside’; this means that the inclusive nature of the globalised world incorporates all socio-economic relationships (Lefebvre, 1970). Brenner and Schmid (2015:170) extend Lefebvre’s (1970) notion of an ‘outside’ to state that areas other than the concentrated urban are the ‘extended urban’. One must appreciate this new adaptation of ‘planetary urbanisation’ as an abstract theory, whereby although anchored through everyday life on the ground, processes such as industrialisation, commodification and social relations occur simultaneously, transcending spatial boundaries, urbanising all space (Hanakata et al. 2018:29). This decentralised view of the urban identifies significant processes not previously considered, therefore highlighting the power of the urban and a way in which the rapidly evolving nature of urban society in the 21st century can be put into theory to make sense of urbanisation on a global scale (Schmid, 2018:604). A key point to note is planetary urbanisation identifies the urban as a process and not a form. This acknowledges the urban as not being a fixed unit, but where processes occurring in the urban are being reproduced and remade worldwide (Brenner and Schmid, 2015: 166). Reproduction of abstract urban processes across time and space are relevant in exploring the urban present and future.

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