City Rankings: More Harm than Help?

On the ongoing debate about the value of city rankings and their prevalence in the media, I looked at Monocle magazines latest one yesterday and as discussed here  by george carothers on [polis], wondered what value they are, seeing as how we haven’t yet agreed on what the real values (metrics) needed are for the people who live in the city, not for some globe-trotting modern day global “yuppy”- it is interesting to read Monocle publisher’s column back page editorial in the issue referenced in this article: You can see a preview of  issue #45 here

We could blame it on our competitive nature, but it is widely known that we enjoy hearing about how the places and things that we love hold up against the places and things of “others.” We are surrounded by rankings in almost every field of life: schools and universities compete for the highest spots in national and international league tables, employers try to establish themselves as the “most socially minded,” and countries are ranked by their ability to provide citizens with “human development.”

Some of the most popular rankings are those of cities, which aim to establish whose cities are the most economically competitive, the most livable, and the most creative places in the world. Scholars have worked tirelessly towards a science of ranking cities in various ways, none of which have proven to be very useful to anyone other than those attempting to profit from the image of ranking near the top. The regurgitated notion that New York, London, and Tokyo sit comfortably at the peak of the “global city” hierarchy has little bearing on the activities of the street cleaners, shop owners, artists, and residents who populate these places.

Or does it? Continue reading