Cities are changing at a rate unparalleled since the industrial revolution and more than half the population of the world now lives in cities compared with less than a quarter in 1950. Construction is booming in and around cities, but the downside to these developments is that cities of the postindustrial world appear to have greater social divisions. Understanding the Urban examines the contemporary nature and possible futures of cities in a postindustrial and globalized world. Theoretical debates and empirical research from a range of disciplines are brought together to provide an understanding of cities both as complex systems and as the product of collective human action. This well structured and lively text draws extensively on political, economic and cultural examples from developing and developed countries to explore key topics such as: * Restructuring of urban employment; * The transformation of 'culture' in cities; * Locality and community; * Cities in a world system; * Production and reproduction of the built environment * Politics and governance. To encourage students to develop a critical understanding of today's cities, innovative references to literary, cinematic and www examples are provided alongside conventional academic resources at the end of each chapter.