The Hidden Axiom of Mobility and the Topological Configuration of Urban Space

By Michael H. Turk.

Published by The International Journal of the Constructed Environment

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

For most urban economists the standard theoretical model for comprehending the economic activities shaping the disposition of urban space is largely a monocentric construct. At its center is a central business district, radiating out from which are gradients measuring changes in land rents, density, and housing prices as a function of linear distance, while communications, transportation, and commuting costs are similarly measured, the efficiency of each linked to the linear distance covered.

In this paper I will take up two broad objections to this approach. The first involves the potential primacy of the topological over the topographical - communication and transportation networks, among others - may matter more than geographical distance or position. The second challenges the economic efficiencies that underlie the disposition of urban space described above, as they depend upon the unfettered mobility of all pertinent economic agents, while the essence of urban life is typically found in the lack of mobility, whether it be in the desire to maintain housing security, commercial stability, or to sustain neighborhood cohesion and a sense of community.

Would it be then possible to imagine a different configuration of urban space for the contemporary global city when these two objections are taken into account?

Keywords: Monocentric Model, Metric Distance, Topology, Economic Mobility, Housing Security, Neighborhood Cohesion

The International Journal of the Constructed Environment, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp.117-130. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 719.729KB).

Dr. Michael H. Turk

Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, History, and Political Science, Fitchburg State University, Fitchburg, Massachusetts, USA

Professor of Economics at Fitchburg State University, having taught at the college/university since 1982. My academic background is in both economics and history, and therefore I have taught a wide range of courses, including interdisciplinary ones, including on the historical and societal background to technological change from a global perspective and U.S. economic history. I have specialized in the fields of urban economics and the history of economic thought. My interest in urban economics has been informed by my many years of service in the community as a housing activist.