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Urban EcologyPatterns, Processes, and Applications$
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Jari Niemelä, Jürgen H. Breuste, Thomas Elmqvist, Glenn Guntenspergen, Philip James, and Nancy E. McIntyre

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199563562

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199563562.001.0001

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Social-Ecological Transformations in Urban Landscapes—A Historical Perspective

Social-Ecological Transformations in Urban Landscapes—A Historical Perspective

(p.206) Chapter 4.2 Social-Ecological Transformations in Urban Landscapes—A Historical Perspective
Urban Ecology

Charles L. Redman

Oxford University Press

Examining the origin and history of cities and networks of cities has the potential to reveal how decisions actually have been made in many varied contexts and the resulting short- and long-term implications of those decisions, hence, the past can be a rich source of insight in evaluating the options societies have for the future. Beyond the general insights into the working of social-ecological systems, the past offers a series of unique insights: evidence from completed historical cycles, deep time perspective that reveal long-term outcomes, evidence of linked dynamics at multiple scales, and emergent features that are likely or very unlikely to occur. The emergence of urban society introduced a new set of socio-ecological interactions that in varying manifestations still underlie the operation of cities today. First, the growth and aggregation of people in cities both drove and enabled the creation and concentration of goods and services and the productive capacity to create more. Second, urban society has prompted varied changes in mobility patterns, stimulating rural to urban migration and restricting inter-polity movement as well as discouraging mobility due to major investments in infrastructure. Third, the growth of early cities and cities today have attempted to solve problems and take advantage of opportunities by forming institutions that often involved more complex forms of information flow and hierarchical ordering of human interactions. The past offers a vast set of case studies each of which in an experiment the success or failure of decision-making.

Keywords:   mobility, institutions, socio-economic systems, historic cycles, linked dynamics, infrastructure

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