World population is expected to increase by some 2.6 billion from 6.9 billion in 2010 to more than 9.5 billion by mid-century. Most of this population increase will occur in the developing nations, and most of this increase will be absorbed in the rapidly expanding metropolitan regions of these countries – the so-called megacities of the twenty-first century (United Nations, 2009). And as urban development accelerates across the globe, most of the population increase will occur in the emerging megacities and other metropolitan areas in Africa, Asia and South America. Because the original areas of settlement in the city centre have long been established, much of the population increase in these metropolitan regions will occur in the suburban areas of cities in the Global South – areas of favelas and shanty towns alongside earlier middle-class and upper-class suburbs, newly planned gated communities and garden suburbs, and indigenous models of suburban growth that will emerge in the next century.
Volume eight of Research in Urban Sociology focused on race and ethnicity in New York City. Our original idea when planning that volume was to contrast the ethnic landscape of New York City with that of Los Angeles, and to suggest that while the outpouring of studies from the Los Angeles School proclaims that Los Angeles is different from other cities – and thus is a signifier of the metropolis of the future – the creation of new ethnic landscapes is hardly limited to Los Angeles. Indeed, there is a rich history of both older and newer scholarship concerning ethnic communities in New York City, and we sought to update both the research and to offer a point of comparison between the studies of Los Angeles and other cities.