Jerome I. Hodos. Second Cities: Globalization and Local Politics in Manchester and Philadelphia. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2011. Illustrations. xiii + 246 pp. $69.50 (cloth), ISBN 978-1-4399-0231-8; $29.95 (paper), ISBN 978-1-4399-0232-5.
Reviewed by Gary W. McDonogh (Professor, Growth and Structure of Cities, Bryn Mawr College)
Published on H-SAE (December, 2013)
Commissioned by Michael B. Munnik
Theorizing Secondary Status: Urban Studies Seen through Manchester and Philadelphia
As Jerome I. Hodos notes in this comparative analysis, contemporary apex cities such as New York, London, Tokyo, and Shanghai have dominated urban studies of globalization, despite the intense differences between these cities and myriad smaller metropolitan centers. Hodos’s categorization of “second cities” seeks to define systematic comparison in urban studies over time around important regional capitals, defined by industry rather than FIRE (Finance, Insurance, Real Estate) albeit deeply influenced by nearby world metropoles. He also stresses the long-term dynamism of such cities, involving success as well as decline, amid constant efforts by elites, political institutions, and citizens to maintain power and reputation that mark theirs as more than just another provincial city. Manchester, in this regard, is never London. But neither is it Leeds, Liverpool, or Birmingham. Thus, Hodos’s work promises to integrate and expand on other comparative efforts beyond iconic global capitals, whether Blair Ruble’s Second Metropolis: Pragmatic Pluralism in Gilded Age Chicago, Silver Age Moscow, and Meiji Osaka (2001) with its comparisons of Chicago, Moscow, and Osaka (which Hodos does not cite in his text); or elaborate schema such as the University of Loughborough Globalization and World Cities Research Network (http://www.lboro.ac.uk/gawc/) and its complicated range of cities from Alpha ++ to Sufficiency (where Philadelphia 2010 is Alpha 1; Manchester, Beta). While Hodos poses significant questions, his work nonetheless is incomplete and not fully convincing, especially as he attempts to integrate multiple features of political, economic, and cultural life across rapidly shifting currents of the twentieth century.
To develop the second city as a conceptual tool, Hodos highlights patterns of economic development, social formation, political action, and culture within two cities of British heritage that became powerhouses in the nineteenth century but that have slowed (or declined) in growth since then, holding relatively weaker positions with regard to key transnational finances and services in the current century. While both emerged within British imperialism, Manchester was a manorial demesne that only acquired municipal status in 1840, long after Philadelphia had evolved from being the second largest city of the British Empire to a postcolonial national capital and then a manufacturing hub with a secondary role in a burgeoning postcolonial state. While this kinship within difference neatly structures comparison, it also imposes limits on generalizations recognizable for those dealing with other “second” European cities that might more richly define the category, be they Barcelona, Marseilles, Kiev, or Naples.
After a rapid early historical overview, Hodos moves ahead into chapters on contemporary corporate patterns, patterns of migration, and cultural ethos before reexamining nineteenth-century infrastructural projects that reshaped the economic development of each city. This interrupted chronology underscores his structural division between features that constitute a second-city position--a political-economic culture of industry, migration, and ethnic differentiation and patterns of middle-class culture--and those strategies that seek to maintain it.
Approaching the present, Hodos scrutinizes control and subsidiaries as transnational corporations reshape the landscapes of each city, with textiles and heavy industry giving way to pharmaceuticals and education in the absence of global financial leadership. Strikingly, the local role of property ownership and investment is ignored, which actually constitutes another critical level of circulation of capital, especially in the most recent global crisis. Indeed, in earlier articles that are essentially summarized here, he has presented the roles of urban elites for Philadelphia much more convincingly.
The author links this economic story to social and ideological developments through immigration and institutions that differentiate second cities as regional capitals. He characterizes both cities by a dominance of internal migration (in the case of Manchester, including movement from Ireland) over the external migration that characterized global capitals like New York City and London. Exploring urbane ideologies, he raises interesting questions of education as industry and content, highlighting the Wharton School and Taylorism under the aegis of the University of Pennsylvania and the parallel Manchester Business School, including the development of Owens College and the scientific explorations of John Dalton. Throughout the book, he seeks an ethos that “cities” (or their elites) share, including a sense of pragmatism and a valuation of individual gain that shapes political-economic action. This resonates well with both Sam Bass Warner (The Private City: Philadelphia in Three Periods of Growth ) and H. Digby Baltzell (Puritan Boston and Quaker Philadelphia ) on Philadelphia, although one might have wished more engagement with Friedrich Engels’s readings of Manchester in The Condition of the Working Class in England (1844) (see Robert Fishman’s chapters on both cities in Bourgeois Utopias: The Rise and Fall of Suburbia ).
The second half of the book loops backward and forward to deal with cities as actors (sometimes clarifying “cities” to mean elites but often creating a frustrating synecdoche). Hodos raises an interesting comparison of the great nineteenth-century projects of both cities--the convoluted Main Line of canals and eventual railroads that tied Philadelphia to the “West” and the Manchester Ship Channel that bypassed Liverpool and linked the city to the cotton crops of the American South and the markets of the British Empire. Similarly, he traces modern concerns with shipping and air transportation as forms of “municipal foreign policy” that operate “as a kind of urban mercantilism, in which city governments try to do what is best for the city as a whole no matter what people outside the region think or want--and no matter what the national interest might be” (p. 145). Here, as an ethnographer, I missed the blood and guts of political and economic elites in action, often better captured by journalists like Luis Mauri and Lluís Uría in their analysis in La gota Malaya: Pascual Maragall, la obstinación y el poder (1998) of the transformations of Barcelona under Pascual Maragall, social scientist and politician.
Through complementary strategies, agents in both cities have sought to enhance metropolitan status, although Hodos identifies second cities with a preference for middlebrow or pop culture over “high” culture. Vignettes of the Manchester Art Treasures Exhibition of 1857, Philadelphia’s celebration of the American Centennial in 1876, sports in Manchester, and Philadelphia’s downtown arts revitalization show urban elites as vital actors even when not challenging an apex metropolis. At the same time, Hodos admits, “it is difficult to determine how far this new awareness of globalization, or of Philadelphia’s global role and position, has penetrated most people’s everyday consciousness” (p. 167). Yet if Philadelphians question top-down revitalization, how can we accept that “Manchester wanted to be thought of as a city that was wealthy and cosmopolitan but not necessarily a global city” (p. 172)? Where is Engels when we need him?
Moreover, these rapid discussions scarcely seem systematic or comprehensive. Philadelphia, too, has notorious sports traditions, as do primary global cities such as New York, Paris, and London that have also bid on the Olympics. Meanwhile, the schematic association of high culture with world cities and instrumental manipulations with secondary ones seems unhelpfully reductionist in terms of artistic and architectural vanguards, museums, or creative cultures of many European “second” cities.
Hodos’s provocative idea of strong urban agency, of “municipal foreign policy,” challenges Europeanists in worlds where snaring Ryan Air flights has altered continental connections, as Barcelona’s Las Ramblas remind me each day, and where European competitions for Greenest City, Capital of Culture, or smartest city erupt each year Yet, despite the highly visible protagonism of urban elites (and technocrats) in these areas, the intertwining of city and state--and the European Union (EU)--around taxation and redistribution, channeling of immigration and finance, and sheer definition and regulation of markets remind us that we still need multi-scalar analysis. Philadelphia’s airport hub strategy, for example, has been endangered by airline economics fostered by both a U.S. national market and interstate regulations.
Overall, this book underscores both the promise and dangers of the categorization of second cities that Hodos posits, especially as derived from descriptive case studies. Certainly, an argument to move beyond London, Paris, and a handful of other cities speaks to an anthropology of Europe that has been more varied in its settings for decades. Indeed, our English-language bibliography seems relatively weaker with regard to global cities: how do our students access the strength of local scholars whose work may not be widely accessible in the United States, even in the case of major metropoles? Moreover, those of us who teach about European cities in the United States need creative anchors of comparison.
Still, Hodos from the beginning proves rather vague in the relation of category, agency, and causality as well as details; I found myself troubled by such summations as “Although both Philadelphia and Manchester used cultural projects to build their identities as second cities, each filled this identity with different content” (pp. 149-150). At times, it seems unclear whether “second city” remains a descriptive category or becomes an emic goal or even an explanation for urban elite actions and policymaking.
In addition, the idea of second cities still exists in relation to firsts, but which and how? From the vantage of Barcelona (vis-á- vis Madrid, though we can stretch the relationship perhaps to Paris and, in the new EU, Berlin and London), “secondariness” demands nuanced arguments. Nor does the triangulation of London and New York with second cities seem complete without more consideration of Washington DC and the different meanings of the nation-state, which Hodos relegates to a secondary position in his closing rhetoric. Similarly, is it satisfying to draw a “second city” category without sketching a wider competing context of cities rising from below that Hodos sometimes introduces almost anecdotally: “Bangalore, Monterrey, Pusan and Seattle have all attempted to rise into second position, with considerable success” (p. 71)?
While useful in data and provocative suggestions, especially for those of us for whom Manchester has been a touchstone city from Engels onward, European urbanists will not find the generative force here we might wish for from such an evocative category as “second cities.” Nonetheless, it reminds us as researchers and teachers of the need to think both comparatively and creatively, wherever Loughborough, local elites, or other scholars may rank our sites.
. See Jerome I. Hodos, “Globalization, Regionalism, and Urban Restructuring: The Case of Philadelphia,” Urban Affairs Review 37 (2002): 358-379; and Jerome I. Hodos, “The 1876 Centennial in Philadelphia: Elite Networks and Political Culture,” in Social Capital in the City, ed. R. Dilworth (Philadelphia: Temple University, 2006), 19-39.
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