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Dozentur Soziologie, Departement Architektur, ETH Zürich, 17. February 2019
The New Metropolitan Mainstream

Theory and research


The term “new metropolitan mainstream” was developed to decipher a broad range of phenomena that have recently emerged in cities around the world which have important impacts on urban development and everyday life. Under the conditions of planetary urbanization, cities have become strategic nodes of the global economy and of social life. Increased competition between cities leads to similar strategies for attracting capital investment and highly qualified labor, and similar standards and processes for urban planning and design. A prestigious blend of cultural amenities and offerings for luxury consumption is today part of the standard policy repertoire. Many contemporary cities both in the global North and in the global South are confronted with gentrification and urban regeneration, and have been equipped with skyscrapers, flagship projects, and “star” architecture. The new metropolitan mainstream has multiple faces and exists in many different versions. It is the aim of this project to analyze and compare this diversity.








Research, exhibition and publication project


International Network for Urban Research and Action INURA



The New Metropolitan Mainstream is a research, exhibition and publication project launched by INURA. The Chair of Sociology supports this project and takes part on the development of the theoretical concept and the research. The project started in 2008. Analytical categories and standard framework settings were developed in a collective process. 36 local teams designed maps and posters of their cities using common indicators and criteria. Maps and posters were presented in a public exhibition at the 20th INURA conference 2010 in the Rote Fabrik in Zurich. They were subsequently revised and published on the INURA website in October 2011. Possible products of the project are a book with maps and comparative analyses as well as an interactive website.


The authors of the project are members of the International Network for Urban Research and Action (INURA), a network of people interested and involved in the development of cities. The network was founded in 1991, in Salecina, Switzerland. Members come from different backgrounds and share a critical perspective on today’s economic, ecologic and social development of cities.




INURA (eds.): The Contested Metropolis. Six Cities at the Beginning of the 21st Century, 2004.



INURA (eds.): Possible Urban Worlds. Urban Strategies at the End of the 20th Century, Birkhäuser-Verlag, Basel/Boston/Berlin. 1999 New Metropolitan Mainstream