Government Further information: Local government The city council of Tehran meets in September 2015. Local government of cities takes different forms including prominently the municipality (especially in England, in the United States, in India, and in other British colonies; legally, the municipal corporation; municipio in Spain and in Portugal, and, along with municipalidad, in most former parts of the Spanish and Portuguese empires) and the commune (in France and in Chile; or comune in Italy). The chief official of the city has the title of mayor. Whatever their true degree of political authority, the mayor typically acts as the figurehead or personification of their city. The city hall in George Town, Malaysia, today serves as the seat of the City Council of Penang Island. City governments have authority to make laws governing activity within cities, while its jurisdiction is generally considered subordinate (in ascending order) to state/provincial, national, and perhaps international law. This hierarchy of law is not enforced rigidly in practice—for example in conflicts between municipal regulations and national principles such as constitutional rights and property rights. Legal conflicts and issues arise more frequently in cities than elsewhere due to the bare fact of their greater density. Modern city governments thoroughly regulate everyday life in many dimensions, including public and personal health, transport, burial, resource use and extraction, recreation, and the nature and use of buildings. Technologies, techniques, and laws governing these areas—developed in cities—have become ubiquitous in many areas. Municipal officials may be appointed from a higher level of government or elected locally. Municipal services The Dublin Fire Brigade pictured in April 1970, quenching a severe fire at a hardware store. Cities typically provide municipal services such as education, through school systems; policing, through police departments; and firefighting, through fire departments; as well as the city's basic infrastructure. These are provided more or less routinely, in a more or less equal fashion. Responsibility for administration usually falls on the city government, though some services may be operated by a higher level of government, while others may be privately run. Armies may assume responsibility for policing cities in states of domestic turmoil such as America's King assassination riots of 1968. Finance The traditional basis for municipal finance is local property tax levied on real estate within the city. Local government can also collect revenue for services, or by leasing land that it owns. However, financing municipal services, as well as urban renewal and other development projects, is a perennial problem, which cities address through appeals to higher governments, arrangements with the private sector, and techniques such as privatization (selling services into the private sector), corporatization (formation of quasi-private municipally-owned corporations), and financialization (packaging city assets into tradable financial instruments and derivatives). This situation has become acute in deindustrialized cities and in cases where businesses and wealthier citizens have moved outside of city limits and therefore beyond the reach of taxation. Cities in search of ready cash increasingly resort to the municipal bond, essentially a loan with interest and a repayment date. City governments have also begun to use tax increment financing, in which a development project is financed by loans based on future tax revenues which it is expected to yield. Under these circumstances, creditors and consequently city governments place a high importance on city credit ratings. Governance Governance includes government but refers to a wider domain of social control functions implemented by many actors including nongovernmental organizations. The impact of globalization and the role of multinational corporations in local governments worldwide, has led to a shift in perspective on urban governance, away from the "urban regime theory" in which a coalition of local interests functionally govern, toward a theory of outside economic control, widely associated in academics with the philosophy of neoliberalism. In the neoliberal model of governance, public utilities are privatized, industry is deregulated, and corporations gain the status of governing actors—as indicated by the power they wield in public-private partnerships and over business improvement districts, and in the expectation of self-regulation through corporate social responsibility. The biggest investors and real estate developers act as the city's de facto urban planners. The related concept of good governance places more emphasis on the state, with the purpose of assessing urban governments for their suitability for development assistance. The concepts of governance and good governance are especially invoked in the emergent megacities, where international organizations consider existing governments inadequate for their large populations. Urban planning La Plata, Argentina, based on a perfect square with 5196-meter sides, was designed in the 1880s as the new capital of Buenos Aires Province. Main articles: Urban planning and Urban design Urban planning, the application of forethought to city design, involves optimizing land use, transportation, utilities, and other basic systems, in order to achieve certain objectives. Urban planners and scholars have proposed overlapping theories as ideals for how plans should be formed. Planning tools, beyond the original design of the city itself, include public capital investment in infrastructure and land-use controls such as zoning. The continuous process of comprehensive planning involves identifying general objectives as well as collecting data to evaluate progress and inform future decisions. Government, as the ultimate wielder of force is legally the final authority on planning but in practice the process involves both public and private elements. The legal principle of eminent domain is used by government to divest citizens of their property in cases where its use is required for a project. Planning often involves tradeoffs—decisions in which some stand to gain and some to lose—and thus is closely connected to the prevailing political situation. The history of urban planning dates to some of the earliest known cities, especially in the Indus Valley and Mesoamerican civilizations, which built their cities on grids and apparently zoned different areas for different purposes. The effects of planning, ubiquitous in today's world, can be seen most clearly in the layout of planned communities, fully designed prior to construction, often with consideration for interlocking physical, economic, and cultural systems. Society Social structure Urban society is typically stratified. Spatially, cities are formally or informally segregated along ethnic, economic and racial lines. People living relatively close together may live, work, and play, in separate areas, and associate with different people, forming ethnic or lifestyle enclaves or, in areas of concentrated poverty, ghettoes. While in the US and elsewhere poverty became associated with the inner city, in France it has become associated with the banlieues, areas of urban development which surround the city proper. Meanwhile, across Europe and North America, the racially white majority is empirically the most segregated group. Suburbs in the west, and, increasingly, gated communities and other forms of "privatopia" around the world, allow local elites to self-segregate into secure and exclusive neighborhoods. Landless urban workers, contrasted with peasants and known as the proletariat, form a growing stratum of society in the age of urbanization. In Marxist doctrine, the proletariat will inevitably revolt against the bourgeoisie as their ranks swell with disenfranchised and disaffected people lacking all stake in the status quo. The global urban proletariat of today, however, generally lacks the status as factory workers which in the nineteenth century provided access to the means of production. Economics Historically, cities rely on rural areas for intensive farming to yield surplus crops, in exchange for which they provide money, political administration, manufactured goods, and culture. Urban economics tends to analyze larger agglomerations, stretching beyond city limits, in order to reach a more complete understanding of the local labor market. People shopping for food at a marketplace in Taipei City. As hubs of trade cities have long been home to retail commerce and consumption through the interface of shopping. In the 20th century, department stores using new techniques of advertising, public relations, decoration, and design, transformed urban shopping areas into fantasy worlds encouraging self-expression and escape through consumerism. In general, the density of cities expedites commerce and facilitates knowledge spillovers, helping people and firms exchange information and generate new ideas. A thicker labor market allows for better skill matching between firms and individuals. Population density enables also sharing of common infrastructure and production facilities, however in very dense cities, increased crowding and waiting times may lead to some negative effects. Although manufacturing fueled the growth of cities, many now rely on a tertiary or service economy. The services in question range from tourism, hospitality, entertainment, housekeeping and prostitution to grey-collar work in law, finance, and administration. Culture and communications Cities are typically hubs for education and the arts, supporting universities, museums, temples, and other cultural institutions. They feature impressive displays of architecture ranging from small to enormous and ornate to brutal; skyscrapers, providing thousands of offices or homes within a small footprint, and visible from miles away, have become iconic urban features. Cultural elites tend to live in cities, bound together by shared cultural capital, and themselves playing some role in governance. By virtue of their status as centers of culture and literacy, cities can be described as the locus of civilization, world history, and social change. Density makes for effective mass communication and transmission of news, through heralds, printed proclamations, newspapers, and digital media. These communication networks, though still using cities as hubs, penetrate extensively into all populated areas. In the age of rapid communication and transportation, commentators have described urban culture as nearly ubiquitous or as no longer meaningful. Today, a city's promotion of its cultural activities dovetails with place branding and city marketing, public diplomacy techniques used to inform development strategy; to attract businesses, investors, residents, and tourists; and to create a shared identity and sense of place within the metropolitan area. Physical inscriptions, plaques, and monuments on display physically transmit a historical context for urban places. Some cities, such as Jerusalem, Mecca, and Rome have indelible religious status and for hundreds of years have attracted pilgrims. Patriotic tourists visit Agra to see the Taj Mahal, or New York City to visit the World Trade Center. Elvis lovers visit Memphis to pay their respects at Graceland. Place brands (which include place satisfaction and place loyalty) have great economic value (comparable to the value of commodity brands) because of their influence on the decision-making process of people thinking about doing business in—"purchasing" (the brand of)—a city.