VAN MEETEREN, M., 2019. Urban system. IN: Orum, A.M. (ed.) The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Urban and Regional Studies, Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, Doi: 10.1002/9781118568446.eurs0400
Urban systems research utilizes the language of systems theory to grasp the complexity of the urban and the city. This entry explains the basic principles of urban systems theory and outlines some important pitfalls. Depending on research focus and priority, urban systems have been bracketed geographically and conceptually in different ways in different time periods. In the past, defining the city as a bounded entity was uncontroversial and the difference between interurban and intraurban processes seemed self‐evident. As urbanization intensifies, urban boundaries blur, prompting us to continuously scrutinize the scales of urban systems. The usefulness of urban systems thinking is illustrated through an appreciation of the historical urban systems models of American geographer Allan Pred from the 1960s and 1970s. Pred's work is contextualized in the present by briefly comparing it in terms of continuity and change with world city analysis, an important contemporary application of urban systems analysis.