Urban and Urbanization

Journeys through planetary urbanization: Decentering perspectives on the urban

In recent years, the concept of planetary urbanization has provoked a widespread debate. It is grounded upon a basic hypothesis: that the contemporary urbanizing world cannot be adequately understood without systematically revising inherited concepts and representations of the urban. It is therefore first and foremost an invitation to adopt a different perspective, one that decenters the focus of analysis and looks from an ex-centric position on the urban world. This article attempts to clarify some of the most pressing questions that have arisen thus far in the debate on planetary urbanization. It approaches the question of the power of the urban under conditions of planetary urbanization, and explores the nature and role of theory, in relation to urban practice as well as in relation to urban research. Through some reflections on the relationship between the abstract and the concrete in social theory, this paper discusses the much-debated question of “universalizing” and “totalizing” theoretical engagements, addresses the role of difference and specificity in urban research, and finally evaluates some first results of the various ongoing investigations of planetary urbanization.

more articles from

Volume 36 Issue 3

Explore our Topics

Though not an exhaustive list, these are many of the main areas we cover.