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Iconic architecture in globalizing cities

Sklair, Leslie (2012) Iconic architecture in globalizing cities. International Critical Thought, 2 (3). pp. 349-361. ISSN 2159-8282

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Identification Number: 10.1080/21598282.2012.706779


This paper attempts to construct a theory connecting capitalist globalization and iconic architecture. Iconic architecture is defined as buildings and spaces that are famous for professional architects and/or the public at large and have special symbolic/aesthetic significance attached to them. The drivers of capitalist globalization are conceptualized as the transnational capitalist class, organized analytically in four (sometimes overlapping) fractions: (i) those who own and/or control the major transnational corporations and their local affiliates (corporate fraction); (ii) globalizing politicians and bureaucrats (political fraction); (iii) globalizing professionals (technical fraction); and (iv) merchants and media (consumerist fraction). The transformation of cities all round the world in the last half century is explained in terms of how the four fractions of the transnational capitalist class mobilize their allies in architecture and real estate development to create globalizing cities, increasingly marked and marketed through their iconic buildings and spaces. This is connected theoretically to the underlying ideology of capitalist globalization, namely the culture-ideology of consumerism in the interests of private profit. Evidence for the thesis is presented from recent developments in major Chinese cities and other globalizing cities around the world.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2012 Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group
Divisions: Sociology
LSE Human Rights
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
N Fine Arts > NA Architecture
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2013 09:45
Last Modified: 03 Jun 2024 23:11

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