Larry S. Bourne


Emerging spatial configurations of urban systems: A review of comparative experience

Larry S. Bourne, Piotr Korcelli, Olof Warneryd

Geographia Polonica (1983) vol. 47, pp. 85-100 | Full text

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The purpose of this review paper is essentially empirical: to document and assess re-cent changes in the spatial structure of national urban systems in a comparative inter-national context and to pose a series of questions for subsequent reasearch and theoret-ical analysis. What types and spatial configurations of urban systems are emerging? Does the trend towards a spatially-decentralized urban system represent a short-term perturba-tion in the spatial development of capitalist economic systems or is it a long-term process of adjustment in the settlement pattern of all advanced economies? Does this adjustment process accelerate or decelerate under conditions of slow (or zero) popu-lation growth? What happens to the variance of urban growth rates under such condi-tions? Will the trend be reversed as some observers argue, if and when the current recession ends? What types of modifications to existing concepts, theories and metrics of urban systems appear to be needed? What are the potential implications of these trends for public policy? Finally, has there been a convergence or divergence in the structure of urban systems among industrialized countries — both in market-based and socialist economies — and between those countries and the Third World? These are the kinds of questions addressed in an admittedly preliminary fashion, in this paper.


Larry S. Bourne, Centre for Urban and Community Studies, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
Piotr Korcelli, Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization Polish Academy of Sciences ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście 30, 00-927 Warszawa, Poland
Olof Warneryd, Department of Social and Economic Geography, University of Lund, Lund, Sweden