Abstract

Lyons M. Spatial segregation in seven cities: a longitudinal study of home ownership 1971-1991. Housing Studies 2003; 18 (3): 305-326.

Globalisation has been associated with the development of 'command node' cities in the global economy (Friedman, 1986; Sassen, 1991). Some scholars have argued that the social and spatial structure of such cities has been polarised, because of changing demand for labour and land. A number of debates have developed around this hypothesis, challenging the general applicability of these socio-economic trends to all global cities (e.g. Bruegel, 1996; Hamnett, 1996), while the spatial changes in the housing markets of global cities have been shown to be varied (Marcuse & van Kempen, 2000). They are heavily dependent on local context, but always associated with increased segregation of rich and poor, whether through displacement of the poor from the urban core (Smith, 1989) or through their displacement within it (Lyons, 1996). The present paper suggests that much can be learnt about urban change in an era of globalisation, from analysis of the differences between global and other cities. The hypothesis is that spatial restructuring of housing markets in London, a global city, is likely to have important similarities with those of other cities in England, which occupy lower positions in a global urban hierarchy. A comparison of the extent of socio-spatial clustering of home ownership in London, with six English cities at various levels of the urban hierarchy is presented, which partly supports the hypothesis, comparing change over a 20-year period, based on cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses of ONS Longitudinal Study data for the years 1971, 1981 and 1991. Findings were that, despite its more socially polarised labour market, London's home ownership market was less spatially segregated than that of other cities in the sample. Implications for global city theory, and for the interpretation of the dynamics of other urban markets, are discussed.