Associational Life in the Rounding Out of Dynamic Cities: An in-depth methodology and application to Newcastle city-region in the nineteenth century

Michael Barke, Peter J. Taylor

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


In her classic theory of economic development Jane Jacobs (1971) identifies explosive city growth as the key mechanism. Less well known is her description of a broader urban consequence of this rapid change that she terms the rounding out of the city, a new array of goods and services for the local population. Her list of these for her ‘home town’ Scranton, Pennsylvania, in the first half of the twentieth century are given as a zoo, a museum of natural history, a central public, reference library, several hospitals, ‘several stuffy but imposing clubs’, departmental stores, city departments for fire-fighting and public health services, and a trolley-car system (Jacobs 1970, p. 160). That is, although Jacobs defines a city as a settlement that experiences one or more momentous economic spurts, it only begins to more broadly function as we expect of a city during its period of rounding out. In this chapter we equate Jacobs’s rounding out with development of an urban associational life, unplanned and voluntary creation of a thick layer of small social networks riding the rapid economic changes. They can be interpreted as buffers against the uncertainties and anonymity consequent upon urban growth (Neal 2013, p. 41). This process is explored for Newcastle upon Tyne, England, in the nineteenth century. Our choice of Newcastle for this case study follows on from previous research on economic spurts through urban demographic growth that found this city to be one of the fastest growing cities in the world for two periods, 1800-49 and 1850-99 (Taylor et al. 2010). Subsequently we have described this economic success in detail, showing how Newcastle’s division of labour grew in complexity as it was transformed from a centre for coal export at the beginning of the nineteenth century to become a large city-region and industrial powerhouse by century’s end (Barke and Taylor 2014). This was also a period of massive rounding out in the form of a vast diversity of voluntary associations. Thus huge economic change was accompanied by equally momentous cultural, political and social additions to the activities of the city. In this contribution we outline the methods we have deployed to describe and analyse a growing associational life behind transformation into a multifaceted urban society.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Cities and Networks
EditorsZachary P. Neal, Céline Rozenblat
Place of PublicationNorthampton
PublisherEdward Elgar
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781788114714
ISBN (Print)9781788114707
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2021

Publication series

NameResearch Handbooks in Urban Studies
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing Limited


Dive into the research topics of 'Associational Life in the Rounding Out of Dynamic Cities: An in-depth methodology and application to Newcastle city-region in the nineteenth century'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this