Dissertation Abstracts

City in Network Society: Between the "Space of Place" and the "Space of Flows"

Author: Sarinic, Jana , jsarinic@ffzg.hr
Department: Department of Sociology, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
University: University of Zagreb, Croatia
Supervisor: Ognjen Caldarovic, Ph.D.
Year of completion: 2013
Language of dissertation: Croatian

Keywords: network society , space of flows , space of place , urban sociology
Areas of Research: Regional and Urban Development , Theory , Women in Society


One of the most important features of the contemporary world is intensive urbanization and the growth of megacities around the globe. Like its sister disciplines, geography in particular, urban sociology is uncertain of how to explain new urban phenomena and how to frame further development of urbanization processes. This dissertation is a critical analysis of classical and modern urban sociology's efforts to explain new phenomena that are developing in front of our eyes. The dissertation discusses various aspects of the development of urban society, the role and position of contemporary urban sociology, as well as its key concepts and theoretical approaches; I give special attention to a comparison between different critical approaches, theories, and ideas of contemporary and classical urban sociology.
Contemporary urban sociology, especially the "Los Angeles School of Urbanism", is interested in new processes of urbanization in post-fordist globalized economies. These processes, according to the "LA School", are restructuring the "social mosaic" of "postmetropolis" as a globalized "exopolis" and "fractal city" (Soja).
New models of urban growth, such as the global city model and the postmetropolis model, are introduced and discussed, in addition to and in opposition to the traditional concentric-zone model of the Chicago School. The comparison reveals that the most important feature of any contemporary model is that it should be a network city model, because network analyses of city connections, inside restructuring and organization (for example, complicated transportation networks of metropolis or metropolitan region) is the best way to understand the growth dynamics of and changes in any contemporary city.
However the main three authors whose work we address are Manuel Castells, Edward W. Soja, and Michel Bassand. A new type of space that emerged in the network society (the "space of flows") is viewed by Castells as (analytically) opposed to the "space of place" where we all live in our everyday life. In my work, I show that it is better to understand these terms as connected and parts of the process of structuration of contemporary cities and urban society. In the concluding part of the dissertation, I address potential ways of understanding the urban phenomena as well as sociological and social theories that could help in the explanation of the future of our urban society. The dominant form of space in the network society is the space of flows. It is a space of economic transactions and global networks, as well as instrumental spaces and "non-places" (Augé). However, it is not disconnected from the place as such (the space of place) because the space of everyday life is still full of people, ideas, traditions and culture(s), and it is "very much alive." I show how these two spaces interact with one another. Nonetheless, the main focus will be social and sociological problems that arise from this relationship, such as the dual city and the social fragmentation in global and world cities.