Almost too many articles on urbanisation in the popular media today begin by citing the fact that the majority of the world's population now lives in urban areas, as of 2005, 2007, 2008 or 2009, depending often on when the writer started paying attention!
The irony is that this threshold is being crossed at a time when individual cities are losing their prominence in the international political economy, ceding that place to larger economic regions, as recent reports have heralded.
The global financial crisis brought a triumphalist era of city-building to a close, with the popping of property bubbles around the world, best symbolised by the orgasmic meltdown of Dubai.
It was often thought that the lowering of trade barriers effected by globalisation would weaken nation-states and release city economies from their grasp. It is becoming clearer that this merely allowed economic activity to restructure itself into urban mega-regions distributed with some regularity across the world's continents.
City economies are now caught in a double-bind: reshaped by the production and labour forces within their mega-regions, yet constrained by the anachronistic trade and immigration policies of their national governments.
We also once talked about the disconnect between national governments, manipulating their economies within the terms of international agreements, and their local populations which bore the social impact of those actions.
Now there is a three-way mismatch between the political territories of governments, the economic territories of mega-regions, and the social territories of translocal populations. Even the most powerful cities can only be understood as provisional intersections of these three territories.
Governing these overlapping systems can no longer be the work of single-state authorities. Governance at any scale mandates the cooperation of multiple governments, whether existing institutions or new forms of authority. The Weberian state that holds a monopoly on coercion no longer applies. But neither does the idea of "the city" as a quasi-state that can be considered in isolation of other territories.