The Theoretical Background of City Development

Cities have been the subject of various scientific disciplines throughout history as an organized level of differentiation. Quantitative growth, increased division of labor, and greater complexity in how these divisions are organized have led cities to gain quite a number of elements that are subjected to scientific fields. These developments are also the reason why many different perspectives have emerged about cities. In addition, the elements that produce cities and the elements that ensure a city’s sustainability historically have not been the same. Different city types have emerged in different geographies based on historical, sociological, political, and religious factors. Even at times when agricultural societies were dominant, cities had disparate characteristic features. A multitude of theories about cities can be mentioned as a result of these developments.

Not only has the variety of theories about cities as a subject emanated from the types of cities and elements that have led to cities’ characteristic features, but different theoretical perspectives have also emphasized different aspects when explaining cities. Assumptions about reality have changed in scientific explanatory models. Thus, the same reality can be explained by placing different emphases on different aspects. Not only have theories diverged on how to explain cities, but so have the criteria on how to ensure urban development. The theory-based models also diverge in the sense that while some focus on the functional and solidarist aspects of the sub-organizations that constitute a city, others emphasize the potential these same divisions have to produce conflict and inequality.

These points show the theoretical assumptions to be important when preparing a city development model. City development focuses on economic data when regarded as an area of economic competition for various organizations. Based on this understanding, one can consider city development to be traceable using wealth-related data. However, taking the presence of imbalances related to the distribution of wealth among the inhabitants into consideration or regarding overall participation in production may indicate wealth that is to be shared among a certain section of society rather than the city as a whole. Even if economic resources are distributed equally, city inhabitants’ life satisfaction may differ. Thus, one can speak of city development based on the equal distribution of all resources and indicators, not just economic resources and indicators.

Another issue regarding theories on city development is data assessment related to city life sustainability and the data that render this measurable in terms of each city’s own time and context. Accordingly, data such as the number of cars in a city and electricity or water consumption may have corresponding historical contexts. A datum that is interpreted as a development indicator whose rate increases over a period of time may not be interpreted as a development indicator when its rate decreases over time. For this reason, changes in urban development theories will inevitably occur, similar to how theories are upgraded based on differences in the reality being experienced. The change of data over time and the issue of how this change reflects reality has vital importance because cities have a dynamic structure by their very nature.

A theoretical perspective on city development must be developed based on the general and fair distribution of factors that affect the ongoing life of cities as well as its own change in relation to the reality of cities. Many pieces of datum such as the high value of economic indicators, the number of youths in a population, or the high number of theater-going members in a city can only be interpreted meaningfully by integrating a city’s reality with its process of change. Just highlighting or excluding certain data and indicators is not enough. Therefore, a balanced and fair distribution of measurable data is more important than their equal distribution. Of course, one should also consider the relationship these data have not only with urban criteria but also with regions, countries, and world cities. According to these theoretical assumptions, a city development index can be created by calculating and grouping measurable data over various standards. Different theoretical assumptions have developed indices by calculating the data that highlight their own emphasis on city development. This index study is called the City Development Index and has calculated its data by considering cities’ integration levels.

What is The City Development lndex?

The City Development Index is based on three main domains (i.e., social, economic, and cultural) and their sub-dimensions. In other words, the formation of the index focuses on the three basic domains of city life. These three domains correspond to the three main structures upon which all cities throughout history have been built and that ensure the continuity of a city’s social reality. In addition, these three basic domains also have their own dimensions. Ideally, urban development basically depends on the harmony among these three elements and the balanced distribution of their measurable sub-indicators.

The first domain focuses on social life and the measurable data reflecting social life. A city is the producer of a general social life and also has social relations of its own in all its different sub-organizations. For example, the demographic structure of the city relates to social life. Cities with large industrial production or cities with a large number of university students will have different data and profiles in terms of demographic structure. At the same time, this change reveals different economic and cultural consequences. The demographic dynamism of a city and the rates of events such as immigration, births, and deaths have a central place in determining city development and producing concordant policies. The spatial configuration of a city and the level to which its social welfare, security, and living standards have developed also affect social life. Access to resources in city life also occurs among the social indicators related to development.

The second domain covers economic data and indicators. Economic development and wealth come directly to mind when addressing urban development. Economic development has vital importance in sustaining city life and in being able to compete with other cities. In the City Development Index, economic development emphasizes economic welfare beyond just the measurable economic data. For instance, the fact that public organizations exist to fight poverty is noteworthy despite the existence of poverty. For this reason, economic prosperity indicates a more balanced economic distribution both in a city as well as in the different units that make up a city. A city’s economic activity, its ability to use regional and global opportunities competitively, and the prominence of certain sectors are the most important dimensions explaining economic life.

The third domain of the City Development Index is related to cultural life. While cities have differed from other settlements throughout history with their uniqueness and diversity of cultural life, a city is a unit of inhabitance wherein its own city culture is formed and maintained. At the same time, a city has diverse culture. For example, metropolitan cities are also rich in cultural diversity. The domain of cultural life involves subjects such as education, the cultural consequences of migration, external openness, political differentiation, and the interactions of different units. Therefore, the cultural development of a city is also an important part of city development.


The Main Domains and Dimensions of the City Development Index

The Prominent Features of the City Development Index

The City Development Index holistically measures city development rather than separately as social, economic, and cultural dimensions. Thus, the index provides the opportunity to evaluate cities’ statuses and development levels in all dimensions rather than in just a single area.

The index was developed to include world cities by involving prominent metropolises from various regions of the world. Thus, the index shows not only the statuses and development levels of cities in certain regions, but also the regions’ statuses and development levels throughout the world.

All indicators in the index are based on measurable and verifiable quantitative data. A significant part of the data has been obtained from city databases that best reflect the status of cities.

The data processing and weighting processes in the index are based on statistical analyses. Thus, all analyses and assessments have been carried out objectively over cities’ data.

Because city data have been analyzed over 11-year intervals, the changes and developments in cities over the years can be followed using their indicators. In addition, the index is built on updated data that can be accessed annually.

The Prominent Features of The City Development Index

The New Faces That Brings Magic

Our Expert Team

Prof. Lutfi Sunar
Istanbul Medeniyet University
Prof. Mahmut Hakkı Akın
Istanbul Medeniyet University
Assoc. Prof. Umit Gunes
Yildiz Technical University
Assoc. Prof. Muhammed Ziya Paköz
Istanbul Technical University
Mustafa Emre Kızılca
Endeks Araştırma