Post-Neo-Classical Perspectives on Economic Development: Emerging Global Cities and Varieties of Capitalism Theorization

Shanghai, China, October 12, 2013 © Courtesy of maduarte/Flickr.
Shanghai, China, October 12, 2013 © Courtesy of maduarte/Flickr.

This topical issue of Open Economics invites submissions that explore both qualitatively and quantitatively how various cities have developed into global hubs of economic activity both historically and contemporaneously. The theoretical and methodological focus of this issue is the application of comparative methods for the purpose of analyzing economic systems in terms that go beyond neo-classical assumptions of economic theory found in conventional macro and micro economics. This also connects to the scholarly discourse on the varieties of capitalism or modernity as a perspective expected to be instructive for considering the preconditions for and effects of the rise of global financial and economic centers, such as London, New York and Hong Kong historically and Singapore, Tokyo and Shanghai more recently.

A Call for Papers by Pablo Markin.

Capitalism can be approached as an abstract system that has a structuring influence on economic, social and cultural forms in the modern period, as it creates complex relations and interdependencies between different geographical sites and regions (Athanassakis, 2008, p. 10). In this respect, the reconsideration of capitalism in relation to cities that epitomize it can help examine the geographic dimension of capitalism as a process of economic development that has historically been unevenly distributed (Davis, & Turpin, 2015, p. 9).

In other words, it can be argued that capitalism is a multi-dimensional phenomenon that introduces a historical rupture in economic, social, and cultural structures (Kiss, 2011, pp. xvii-xix). Capitalism represents a system of spatial relations self-referentially governing the functioning of economic, social and cultural activities (Flusser, 1992, pp. 9-10). Thus, it is possible to trace in spatial configurations the manner in which relations between the economic, social and cultural spheres have been formed (Hüppe, 2013, p. 9).

This approach follows Kracauer’s conception that the operation of capitalism can be diagnosed on the basis of various aspects of urban life, such as luxury in global cities (Kracauer, 1995, p. 285). From this perspective, capitalism belongs as much to the theory of ideas as much as it does to the history of modernity (Rohbeck, 2005, p. 187). Thus, it is possible to concur with Weber’s (1922) position that capitalism is both an economic and a social and cultural phenomenon that can take multiple historically and spatially specific forms, such as imperial capitalism (Whimster, 2015, p. 2). Therefore, this special issue of Open Economics will comparatively explore the role that modern capitalism has played in the transformation of spatial relations (Wallerstein, 1976, p. 273).

Accordingly, the development of capitalism can have alternative explanations, such as in relation to cities that have played key roles in its emergence in its modern form at different historical periods, as Sombart (1922) would argue (Grundmann, & Stehr, 2001, p. 257). While London epitomizes the transition to the imperial, industrial or colonial capitalism with the global expansion of the economic relations of the British empire, Paris, as a historical capital of fashion, consumption and culture, represents an alternative type of capitalist relations that demand a reconsideration of modernity (Benjamin, 1982, p. 479). In this respect, the rise of Asian mega-cities, such as Shanghai, can be treated as indicators of the ascendancy of the non-Western varieties of capitalism that demand theoretical and empirical investigation (Marcuse & Van, 2008).

Therefore, this topical issue of Open Economics will explore post-neo-classical perspectives on economic development in relation to emerging global cities, such as in Asia, and varieties of capitalism theorization. Thus, this special issue seeks to clarify the role that contemporary and historical world cities, such as Shanghai, London and Paris, have played in the emergence of different configurations of capitalism revolving around particular urban centers.


Athanassakis, I. (2008). Die Aktie als Bild: Zur Kulturgeschichte von Wertpapieren. Vienna: Springer-Verlag Vienna.

Benjamin, W. (1982). Gesammelte Schriften: V: Das Passagen-Werk. Scholem, G. G., Adorno, T. W., Tiedemann, R., & Schweppenhäuser, H. (Eds.). Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.

Davis, H. M., & Turpin, E. (2015). Art & Death: Lives Between the Fifth Assessment & the Sixth Extinction. In Davis, H. M., & Turpin, E. (Eds.). Art in the Anthropocene: Encounters among aesthetics, politics, environments and epistemologies, pp. 3-30. London: Open Humanities Press.

Flusser, V. (1992). Bodenlos: Eine philosophische Autobiographie. Bensheim: Bollmann.

Grundmann, R., & Stehr, N. (2001). Why is Werner Sombart not part of the core of classical sociology? From fame to (near) oblivion. Journal of Classical Sociology, 1(2), 257-287.

Hüppe, E. (2013). Urbanisierte Musik: Eine Studie über gesellschaftliche Determinanten musikalischer Raumproduktion und Raumaneignung. Münster: Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek der Westfälischen Wilhelms-Universität.

Kiss, E. (2011). As (i)materialidades do consumo : um estudo sobre as estratégias discursivas da marca Apple na sociedade de consumo. São Paulo: Escola Superior de Propaganda e Marketing.

Kracauer, S. (1995). The mass ornament: Weimar essays. Levin, T. Y. (Trans.). Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Marcuse, P., & Van, K. R. (2008). Globalizing Cities: A New Spatial Order? Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.

Rohbeck, J. (2005). Rehabilitating the Philosophy of History. In Koslowski, P. (Ed.). The Discovery of Historicity in German Idealism and Historism (pp. 187-211). Berlin, Heidelberg and New York: Springer.

Sombart, W. (1922). Luxus und Kapitalismus. München: Duncker & Humblot.

Wallerstein, I. (1976). From Feudalism to Capitalism: Transition or Transitions?. Social Forces, 55(2), 273-283.

Weber, M. (1922). Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft. Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr and P. Siebeck.

Whimster, S. (2015). The Weberian analysis of Chinese capitalism in the light of contemporary developments. Max Weber oggi: Ripensando politica e capitalismo conference proceedings, May 14-15, 2015. Florence, Italy: Università degli studi di Firenze.

Featured Image Credits: Shanghai, China, October 12, 2013 © Courtesy of maduarte/Flickr.

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