The course adopts a cultural perspective, drawing on architecture and urban theory, sociology and cultural geography, to interrogate economics as socially embedded. Spanning from a material basis (involving land use and ownership, localization of production, clustering effects, distribution of products and resources, property investments etc.) to a ‘dematerialized’ and post-industrial economy of services, lifestyles and experiences, the course offers a comprehensive introduction to urban economics as an umbrella term for a heterogenous field of studies.
The course centres on the following themes:
• Basic theory of economics and economic history
• Global capitalism and world cities
• Industrial and post-industrial cities
• Gentrification, housing markets and neoliberal urbanization
• Definitions of formal and informal land use and economic exchange
• Commerce, tourism and the creative industries
The overall aim of the course is to give an overview of how economic principles and forces are interrelated with urban development and urban life, with a particular focus on social and cultural aspects. Students are provided with a broad knowledge on how economic factors influence, and are influenced by, the design, use and experience of the built environment. On completion of the course the student should understand the principles for neoclassical economy and be able to explain, by use of independent examples, what a cultural economical perspective entails; be able to apply central concepts (such as gentrification, place marketing, symbolic capital, creative destruction etc.) to concrete cases of urban transformation; be able to analyse conceptual distinctions (such as production/consumption, formal/informal, industrial/post-industrial, material/immaterial economic factors) and discuss their significance when applied to empirical cases; be able to partake in and make contributions to a critical discussion on how a market-driven urban development influences professional roles in urban design, architecture and planning. The aims of the course may be fulfilled either orally (at seminars or group exercises) or in writing (individual assignments and paper) but for attaining a higher grade (A-B) students are required to do both.
Structured on lectures and literature seminars, the progression of the course is based on close readings, open discussions and a high level of student participation. Students are expected to work both in groups and individually during scheduled course hours. Lectures and readings combine in serving as introductions to the central topics but are also used as means to expand on critical issues by adding complexity and nuance e.g. by relating to case studies and varying examples of professional practice. The course thus gives students access to a rich source of literature and current debates in order to encourage further independent studies.