Notes for a Comparative Theory of Urban Formations

Wilson, Franklin
Working paper no. 2008-05


This paper seeks to break new ground by providing a firmer foundation for the study of urban formations both within and between nation-states. First, a conceptual definition of urban formation is provided, followed by the presentation of a measurement model designed to operationalize the concept. Second, it is suggested that measures of urbanization, while very useful as descriptive tools to summarize the pattern of urban agglomeration of a nation and changes therein, are of little value as analytical variables in comparative urban research. Third, a general outline of an analytical model is presented, which seeks to account for within and between nation-state variations in urban formations through the application of a multi-level modeling strategy. Finally, the implications and limitations of the proposed model for comparative urban research are discussed.