This thesis takes the form of a qualitative research project with the current process of economic agglomeration in the municipality of Chacao in Caracas, Venezuela as a case. Within the poverty-ridden city of Caracas an affluent business district is developing on the territory of Chacao. The aim of the project is to understand what the causes and consequences of this agglomeration are in an urban context characterized by stark socio-economic differences. The research question for the study has the following formulation: - What are the causes of the agglomeration of private investments in the municipality of Chacao and how does that agglomeration relate to inter-municipal polarization in Caracas?
Academic and social relevance Much literature on contemporary changes in urban form suggests that recent developments in information and communications technologies (ICTs) herald the end of agglomeration economies. The study of a contemporary urban agglomeration process is therefore an interesting way to shed new light on the complex relationship between ICTs and the dynamics of urban geographies. In times of economic and political restructuring it is also important to understand the role of new strategies for urban governance in the transformation of urban geographies. A global economy with fewer constraints on private capital poses new challenges for city planning and it is important to understand how private investments affect the development of cities. For cities in the South such an understanding is especially important as limited resources could lead governments faced with the lure of foreign capital investments to opt for policies that might compromise longer-term development goals. A particular focus for this study is uneven intra-urban development. A large percentage of the world’s poor are already living in cities, and while urbanization levels are rising world-wide with over half of the world’s population already living in urban environments, three-quarters of global population growth occurs in urban areas in the South. This means that poverty in the South increasingly needs to be addressed as an urban issue, and in this respect social differences and intra-urban polarization are important topics that call for more research. The contrast between Chacao and its surroundings in Caracas provides an exemplary illustration of such emerging geographies of difference.