Social sciences’ definition of peri-urban and identification of its principal characteristics

Eric Charmes, October 2015

Dispersed city, in-between city, emerging city, post-suburb, etc., are all concepts for talking about peri-urban areas, and they demonstrate both the widespread nature of the phenomenon and its specific context-dependent characteristics. Each of these concepts refers to urbanisation processes that result from various economic, industrial and social dynamics, and the development of infrastructures through which peri-urbanisation takes place. These dynamics profoundly change the morphology of territories, the ‘interpenetration’ of urban and rural, their relationships with the urban centre and their future development. They lead to the development of specific activities, functions and lifestyles. Above and beyond the similarities, this chapter helps us understand that these are not simply synonyms for ‘peri-urban’, and focuses on the importance of context in understanding the development of the concepts.

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