The growth of slums within the urban areas has for long been regarded as a sign of urban poverty (Davis, 21). Davis confirms that the term slum from its use from a street gang into a term that can be used with ease among scholars. The growth of slums can be traced back as far as mid-century where slums has sprouted up in areas of France, India and America and this gave it an international outlook. Some scholars have regarded slums as centers where the poor of the cities live in and that living conditions in these areas are often awful to the dwelling. For instance Gorky asserts that Khitrov, a well-known slum in Moscow was a “lower depth” (Davis 22).
It was believed by Charles Booth among other that slums were often characterized by the combination of prevalence of diseases, overcrowding, dilapidated housing and poverty. In fact, the 1894 survey of the American tenement life concluded that slums were areas of dirty back street having with sleazy and felonious populace (Davis, 22). However for long, the classical definitions of slum still remained in use. According to this definition, slums were viewed to be overcrowding, having informal housing and having inadequate security but the UN adopted definition of slums in 2002 focused on physical as well as the legal features of the slum.
With the above UN definition of slums, the UN researchers estimated that they were about 921 million people living in slums by the year 2001 and about five billion in 2005 (Davis, 23 ). The UN-HABITAT also revealed that countries such as Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Nepal and Chad. Other cities such as Bombay, Shanghai and Delhi have high number of slum dwellers. Russian federation has been regarded to have a high rate of slums growth due to closure of industries, civic, economic inequality and lack of civic investment. These factors have been regarded as the causal factors of slums (Davis. 24)
In cities such as Luanda, Maputo, it is believed that the population living in these areas is the poorest with many earning less money that that required for the essential daily nutrition. It is also believed that not all poor urban dwellers live in the slums. However, Davis notes that many scholars believe that poverty levels are not clearly defined thus many poor people are uncounted in slums. On the topology of slums, many of the slums arise on close to cities, with some developing from construction camps while others refugees camps (Davis, 26). The central issue around slums has been on housing with many people striving to have shelter near areas of job concentration. With more urban poor not living in cities, many slums have grown at the periphery of cities (Davis. 37) especially with people squatting in land which they do not own. Davis believes that those who form part of slum renters are powerless and may lack the ground to form rent strike or fight for other settlements rights.
With slums, a number of firms have established themselves close to the slum areas in order to exploit labor as well as to be far from government lookout as many release effluents in the environment (Davis, 46). With increasing number of urban evictees, it is likely that more slums are going to come up even as many countries experience fights leading to internally displaced people. Such slums may however continue to be infested with criminals who are keen in terrorizing residents for a living.
Globalization of world economy
Sassen highlights that changes in the world economy has had a significant effect on world cities that made them to be international gateways (p. 15). It is regarded that cities have acquired a new dimension of grandness with increasing demand for financial and specialized services (Davis, 17). This phenomenon led to increased cash flow in developing nations, a manifestation of internationalization of economic activities (p.18) Sassen believes that increasing levels of international finance and services result in new economic orders especially with leaders formulating new mode of governing and managing agreements (Sassen, 27)
Despite the economic crises experienced, Sassen points out that new development have been made in institutional accounting and financial reporting (p. 31) thus enhancing corporate administration. Such development include the establishment of the world trade organization that overseas trade. This body is indeed useful in overseeing that little barriers are present in the global economic arena and that countries trade amongst themselves freely. Thus with economic globalization, there has been rise in export processing zones, call centers, global cities and high tech districts (Sassen, 31). Linking Sassen readings with Davis, such shifts in economy may have pushed those lacking skills necessary for the new economic order to seek shelters in areas considered to be slums.
The emergence of global cities has also moved the focus of authorities into handling international economic operations (Sassen, 32). The significance of cities also increased with more emphasis been laid in the running of global operations and this led to territorial distribution. This distribution may be what is seen in Davis reading where the increasing demand of housing led to the establishment of slums as means of addressing the issue. The success of offshore banking as well as global cities has offered a lot of flexibly and benefits in the running of global economic operations (Sassen, 43).
As pointed out by Davis and Sassen, the new shift in the function of cities as well as the rise of cost of living resulted in growth segregation of city dwellings and shift in government focus. This may have caused problems in housing and degradation in living condition in the periphery of the cities. However, it is evident that globalization of economic operations has been of benefit to countries that undertake it especially with the new focus on international finance and services.