Form and structure of the rural-urban fringe as a diagnostic tool of postmodern urban development in Canada
Starchenko, Oksana M.
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This research presents an attempt to “geolocate” postmodern urban development within Canadian urban space using changes in the form and structure of the rural-urban fringe areas as a diagnostic tool. The main argument presented herein is that conceptualizations of postmodern urban form and structure, and particularly their treatment in the urban geographic literature, mask the high level of diversity occurring across the Canadian urban hierarchy. A two-stage methodology linking the models describing postmodern urban form and structure found in the North American geographic literature with the theoretical contributions dealing with factors and forces of urban development is employed. First, investigation of the current patterns of differentiation of the urban social space in Canadian metropolitan areas is conducted. This stage of the analysis is informed by a structural approach to urban geography and carried out by means of factorial ecology. A typology of Canadian rural-urban fringe CSDs is developed using data from 1991 and 1996 censuses of population. Second, two indicators of functional relationships existing between urban fringe and urban core areas — the geographic extent of personal networks of individuals and the activity spaces of households — are investigated in the exemplar rural-urban fringe CSDs. This stage of the analysis is informed by propositions of structuration theory, although it remained compositional with regards to the main focus of analysis. The results of this research suggest that models of postmodern urban form and structure, which have developed in the context of the recent socio-economic restructuring taking place in the United States, do not adequately describe the situation in Canada. While the current context of urban development in Canada shows certain similarities to that in the United States, it also exhibits some unique features that have important implications for the urban development. Variation in urban form and structure in Canada appears to follow two axes — the regional location of metropolitan areas and their positions within the national urban hierarchy. Although Canada exhibits a strong spatial differentiation into heartland and hinterland regions, no shift in focus of the socio-economic space comparable to that of the American Frostbelt-Sunbelt dichotomy is observed here. The majority of rural-urban fringe areas that have elements of postmodern form and structure were found at the top of the urban hierarchy and in the region that has historically been the economic and political core of Canada. Urban areas positioned in the middle of the urban hierarchy appear to have a monocentric structure with a significant degree of centrality.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
SupervisorRandall, James E.
Copyright DateMarch 2005