Urban Fractionalization Around the World: Mapping political fault lines in cities and urban regions

Authors: Sean Fox*, University of Bristol, Levi John Wolf, University of Bristol, Nick Dorward, University of Bristol
Topics: Political Geography, Urban Geography, Regional Geography
Keywords: urban fractionalization, multi-level governance, polycentric governance, metropolitan fragmentation, urbanization, comparative urban research
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/8/2020
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Capitol Ballroom 4, Hyatt Regency, Fourth Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Urbanized regions are home to over 50% of the world’s population and produce roughly 70% of both global GDP and carbon emissions. The quality of government in these areas is therefore of global significance. Yet there has been surprisingly little comparative international research on the quality of urban government. To address this gap in the literature and facilitate comparative urban research we present a preliminary draft of a new global database of ‘urban fractionalisation’ in large cities and urban regions. Urban fractionalization refers to the extent to which apparently functionally integrated urban regions are governed by multiple authorities. Our index of jurisdictional fractionalization is designed to identify potentially structural fault lines in urban authority arrangements that can impede effective collective action. We use the cases of Detroit, USA and Bristol, UK to illustrate the salience of urban fractionalization as an obstacle to effective urban government.

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