Twin track cities? Competitiveness and cohesion in Glasgow and Edinburgh

Turok, I. and Bailey, N. (2004) Twin track cities? Competitiveness and cohesion in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Progress in Planning, 62(3), pp. 135-204. (doi:10.1016/j.progress.2004.04.001)

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It has become common to say that social cohesion and economic competitiveness go together, indeed to claim that cohesion actually promotes prosperity. This is a reversal of the previous belief in economic determinism and individualism. The shift in perspective stems partly from concerns about a growing malaise in society with the potential for unrest. Social stability and trust are thought to encourage long-term investment decisions, while conflict and crime may deter productive activity and make growth less secure. The notion that a strong society supports and sustains a successful economy has begun to influence government policy. It also coincides with a more positive view of the economic potential of cities in the contemporary economy. Yet, the arguments linking cohesion and competitiveness are typically couched in very general terms. They conflate different kinds of phenomena in fuzzy concepts and can confuse the underlying causal relationships. This monograph examines the relationships between competitiveness and cohesion in two significant regional cities within the UK. Glasgow and Edinburgh have experienced relative economic success in recent years, despite striking contrasts in their historic performance and social conditions. Large-scale deindustrialisation has left Glasgow with some of the worst social problems in Britain. Yet the city has transformed its image and experienced an employment turnaround. Social stresses do not seem to have constrained its economic improvement. Edinburgh has experienced accelerated growth, inflated house prices and increasing congestion. Despite its obvious prosperity, sections of the population continue to have trouble gaining access to housing, jobs and other basic necessities. The monograph explores the main urban assets that help or hinder economic performance, including physical infrastructure and social institutions. The title Twin Track Cities? alludes to the multiple realities of both cities, in contrast to the popular images of all-round transformation or unremitting decline. Glasgow and Edinburgh face common pressures on infrastructure and constraints on public investment, but also major challenges of affluence and hardship existing side by side. The evidence suggests that city prosperity supports some forms of cohesion, but a high level of social cohesion at the city level is not a precondition for economic success in the short term.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Bailey, Professor Nick and Turok, Professor Ivan
Authors: Turok, I., and Bailey, N.
Subjects:H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Urban Studies
Journal Name:Progress in Planning

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
216781Competitive Place, Divided Spaces: Urban Change in Central ScotlandIvan TurokEconomic & Social Research Council (ESRC)L130251040Urban Studies