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urban system

  A set of interdependent urban places. The term was introduced by Berry (1964) as part of his application of systems analysis and general systems theory to the study of central place theory.

National territories are organized, according to proponents of the urban systems approach, as a set of urban-centred regions — towns and cities plus their hinterlands — which together exhaust the land area and are articulated into a working system through networks along which goods, services, ideas, capital and labour flow (cf. locational analysis). Economic functions are distributed such that each urban centre and its associated hinterland has a prescribed set of roles within the whole (i.e. within the functional division of labour): over time roles change and the relative functions of places vacillate. With the increasing integration of the capitalist world-economy (cf. world-systems analysis), urban systems are developing which transgress national boundaries, as implied by the concept of a world city.

Description of the organization, operation and change in a system involves much data analysis (as in functional classification of cities), but empirical studies have not been matched by theoretical advances that have demonstrated the value of the terminology and concepts of systems theory, other than as very general descriptive devices. (RJJ)

Reference Berry, B.J.L. 1964: Cities as systems within systems of cities. Papers [and Proceedings] of the Regional Science Association 13: 147-63.



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Other Terms : social space | zone of dependence | cooperative
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