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Doing Global Urban Research
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Doing Global Urban Research

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April 2018 | 264 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

Whether you are an urban geographer, an urban sociologist or an urban political scientist, and whether you take a qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods approach, the challenge that confronts researchers of our increasingly "globalized" urban studies remains fundamentally the same—how to make sense of urban complexity.

This book confronts this challenge by exploring the various methodological approaches for doing global urban research, including Comparative Urbanism, Social Network Analysis, and Data Visualization. With contributions from leading scholars across the world, Doing Global Urban Research offers a key forum to discuss how the practice of research can deepen our knowledge of globalized urbanization.


John Harrison & Michael Hoyler
Chapter 1: Making Sense of the Global Urban
Nikos Katsikis
Chapter 2: Visualizing the Planetary Urban
Peter J. Taylor & Ben Derudder
Chapter 3: Exploring the World City Network
Zachary P. Neal
Chapter 4: Analysing Cities as Networks
Cristina Temenos & Kevin Ward
Chapter 5: Examining Global Urban Policy Mobilities
Donald McNeill & Andrea Pollio
Chapter 6: Tracking the Global Urbanists
Michele Acuto
Chapter 7: Engaging with Global Urban Governance
John Lauermann
Chapter 8: Evaluating Global Urban Sustainability
Christopher Gaffney, Sven Daniel Wolfe & Martin Müller
Chapter 9: Scrutinizing Global Mega-Events
Hyun Bang Shin
Chapter 10: Studying Global Gentrifications
David Wachsmuth
Chapter 11: Researching the Global Right to the City
Roger Keil
Chapter 12: Constructing Global Suburbia, One Critical Theory at a Time
Tim Bunnell
Chapter 13: Comparative Ethnographic Urban Research
Katherine V. Gough
Chapter 14: Doing Longitudinal Urban Research
Mariana Dantas & Emma Hart
Chapter 15: Historical Approaches to Researching the Global Urban
Michael Hoyler & John Harrison
Chapter 16: Advancing Global Urban Research

In the exciting recent whirl of theorising cities and urbanisation through new globalised and planetary configurations, empirical underpinnings have often struggled to keep pace. This much needed collection addresses this issue head-on offering a carefully assembled and importantly pluralistic set of tools, techniques and insights to guide and inspire new and enhanced routes into global urban research.

Andrew Harris
Co-director of UCL Urban Lab and Senior Lecturer in Geography and Urban Studies, UCL

This agenda-setting volume provides a cohesive, candid, and conceptually rich perspective on global urban research. Emerging and established scholars share insights about their methods, ethics, and research practices. These interdisciplinary perspectives make Doing Global Urban Research a valuable and provocative resource for researchers interested in global urban analysis.

Michael Glass
Senior Lecturer of Urban Studies, University of Pittsburgh

This is a landmark volume addressing the issue of the cumulative global significance and impacts of the majority of the world’s population living in cities. Under Harrison and Hoyler’s leadership, Doing Global Urban Research unlocks new intellectual and political territory to reconfigure the debates on why and how cities matter now and into the future.

Susan Parnell
Professor of Environmental & Geographical Science, African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town

The cities of the world and the world of cities have transformed rather dramatically in the past half century. Instead of offering rather frictionless theorizing on these changes, this volume offers a very useful and highly reflective guide to do actual empirical research on a wide range of topics related to global urban studies.

Robert C. Kloosterman
Professor of Economic Geography and Planning, University of Amsterdam

Although there are myriad texts about cities, very few provide useful guidance on how and why to research them.  Harrison and Hoyler’s ‘Doing Global Urban Research’ does just that: it provides novice and seasoned scholars alike with a range of approaches to researching cross-cutting urban themes at the global scale. Highly recommended to those interested in researching cities from geographical, sociological, historical, and/or planning disciplinary lenses, particularly as looking ‘across’ methodological and theoretical perspectives has great potential to enhance research bridging the global and urban scales.

Thomas Sigler
Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, The University of Queensland

While globalization has become a common subject of the social sciences, the practice of doing global urban studies has been neglected so far. This book provides a good sense of how to deal with this, both for students and researchers.

Markus Hesse
Professor of Urban Studies, University of Luxembourg

Doing Global Urban Research

Under the straight-forward title Doing Global Urban Research the editors John Harrison and Michael Hoyler bring together articles on the approaches to ‘globalized’ urban research. The volume highlights the strengths and weaknesses of different disciplinary perspectives to the global urban. The volume begins and closes with the question ‘what constitutes global urban research’, because research done 'in' global cities and mega regions itself does not have to use explicitly global methodologies or reflect the global as an epistemological fundament. The editors’ identification of scales on which to approach a global research agenda and the trends in the development of methodologies, gives a good overview of the potential of the field. Macro-level approaches look at developments and interdependencies in urbanization in a removed perspective: they work with cartographic and analytic approaches that allow the visualization of global urbanization (Nikos Katsikis, Chapter 2). The meso-level approaches emphasize differences in development of urbanization and take the comparative route. Micro-level studies explore individual cities and trace the mutual shaping of global and local levels. These levels can interact in concrete research designs, according to the research question and unit of analysis.
The authors of the volume emphasize that there is no one way to doing global urban research. The focal points of research that arise in these methodological approaches vary regarding spatial, temporal, material and phenomenological aspects. Some researchers follow individual and collective agents’ (who, why) role in shaping urbanization processes (where and how) and how they interact with global and transnational economic and political developments.
Historical approaches to the global urban stress not only the spatial component or scale, but also the temporality and processuality of urbanization. Longitudinal research methodology (Katherine Gough, Chapter 14) or archival work can be helpful in understanding the development of global (urban) networks over time. The third trend in global urban research which the authors stress concerns the transdisciplinary and philosophically diverse background from which the field draws inspiration. Global urban research furthermore engages with diverse locales, and should therefore use and develop methods that make sense for the studied phenomena. Lastly, the book highlights that collaborative and technology-assisted empirical research designs and philosophical engagement is a mayor trend. Tim Bunnell (Chapter 13) reflects on the strategic and day-to-day strengths and weaknesses of multi-sited ethnographic research. Digitalization of data and discussions of data cross-site can bring fruitful inspiration to the research process, although the time and resource limitations of academic jobs may limit ability to engage thoroughly in the method.

The book is meant to stimulate both students and senior researchers. The chapters formulate calls to action by engaging the question why their research area is worthwhile, what challenges may arise, which techniques are required to be learned, different case studies from the respective fields and reflections on the field as a whole. Furthermore, the authors in Doing Global Urban Research engage the problematic epistemological perspective, namely methodological cityism, which like its nation state centric pendant too can limit the scope of study. They call on researcher to not do research ‘in’ the city, but ‘of’ the city, thus not of life in the city but of the production of cities in the context of events and transformations on other spatial scales.
Harrison and Hoyler’s edited volume Doing Global Urban Research approaches the global-local-nexus from the perspective of transdisciplinary Urban Studies. They engage with methodologies of visible representation, mixed-methods and multi-sited research designs, and invite researchers to design their research as reflective of spatial and temporal dimensions of urbanization. Other collections may go deeper into conceptual critique and debate, but this volume has the benefit that it sets relatively clear paths for design decisions to be made by students and researchers, gives interesting case studies as illustrations of the research and reflects on strengths and weaknesses of the respective approaches. It is a honest albeit condensed look at research.

Miss Jana Schäfer
International Studies, BTU Cottbus
April 10, 2019

Sample Materials & Chapters

Making Sense of the Global Urban


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