ERSA European Regional Science Association Soihtu

ERSA 2003 Congress


The abstract for paper number 432:

Antonio G. Calafati, University of Ancona Department of Economics, Ancona, Italy, Francesca Mazzoni, , Jena, Germany
Territorial coalescence and new cities in Italy: a case-study

The accumulation of capital (fund elements) and the extension of individuals’ transactions, learning and investment space may bring about under certain conditions a process of ‘territorial coalescence’ through which contiguous localities come together to form a new, larger and more complex local system, possibly a new city.

Metropolitan areas are certainly the outcome of processes of territorial coalescence. The formation of metropolitan areas is certainly part of the territorial evolution of Italy in the last decade. But in Italy, the relevance of territorial coalescence consists in having generated new cities – or local systems that work as cities – joining together sets of contiguous, small municipalities of comparable size and complexity. What is peculiar to the Italian territorial revolution of the last decades is the formation of clusters of small towns which by joining together have given rise to a new territorial configuration that has the main features of a city. Territorial coalescence leading to the formation of medium-sized new cities is phenomenon that has gone almost unnoticed in its urban dimension. The focus has been on local clusters of small firms (‘industrial districts’) without realising that very often the formation of these local industrial networks clusters was taking place within a much more important process or territorial coalescence generating new cities.

This is a much relevant phenomenon for the reason that the scale (dimension) of a city is not at all neutral with regards to its evolutionary potential – and investment ability. If we assume that only cities of a certain scale – for instance over 100.000 inhabitants – have the ability to generate collective learning, innovation and development, territorial coalescence is an important phenomenon indeed because it increases the evolutionary potential of regions or national states by generating new local systems – cities – with a highly evolutionary potential.

After introducing a pertinent conceptual framework, in the paper a specific case of new city in central Italy will be extensively discussed. A case in which 10 contiguous small towns – located inside a semicircle of 18 kilometres and hosting the core of the largest ‘shoes district’ in Italy (and possibly in Europe) – have grown and melted generating a new city of about 140.000 people. In the period under consideration (1950-2000) the population increased in the area by 80%, followed by a remarkable accumulation of physical capital (houses, factories, infrastructures) that considerably increased the density and spatial interdependence, transforming deeply and irreversibly the territorial organisation of the area.

The paper argues that by looking at the spatial organisation of private and collective capital and at the spatial dimension of the learning and investment strategies of local actors this local system is in fact a city. The paper argues also that the emergence through coalescence of new cities is challenging the Italian institutional setting requiring a deep reform of the institutions of local governance.

Unfortunately full paper has not been submitted.

© 2002 - 2003 by 43rd ERSA Congress - Generated: 05/08/2003