chapter  2
17 Pages

Theoretical Approaches of “Shrinking Cities”


Although urban growth is an uncontested reality in both developed and developing countries, urban shrinkage is no less a reality, despite it being immersed within the ubiquitous discourse of growth. A “shrinking city” can be defi ned as an urban area that has experienced population loss, economic downturn and social problems as symptoms of a structural crisis (Martinez-Fernandez et al. 2012). The term “shrinking cities” has only recently appeared widely in literature and media. It is part of a new vocabulary, which reframes research on urban decline as a global phenomenon (cf. Shrinking Cities International Research Network [SCiRN]) and as an “end of era” symptom (Oswalt 2006). In this chapter we argue that the term “shrinking cities” is not simply a new “wrapping” for a long-known phenomenon in urban history; rather we argue that it connotes an urban process that is, at least in part, new in its foundation, spatial manifestations and social, economic and environmental implications. This new urban reality, we believe, needs to be addressed with a new approach. Indeed, although specifi c factors may be diff erent for the developed and developing worlds, at the root of shrinking cities is a set of multidimensional causes deeply interrelated and anchored in the globalization process.