Abstract: Cities, like any complex adaptive systems, may become increasingly fragile if not properly managed. To date, the literature has focused primarily on the examination of cities within fragile countries. This has resulted in a dearth of studies that have looked at how developed (or even advanced) cities that operate in relatively stable countries and/or environments might allow unresolved issues to accumulate in the city: degrading its ability to function. Studying fragility in developed cities is a worthwhile undertaking given their economic, social, and political significance. This paper puts forth a conceptual framework to understand the nature of fragile cities in the developed world. Our framework frames fragility as a function of unresolved fractures of social compacts that degrades a city’s ability to function over time and stress exacerbates its effects. Drawing on over two dozen incidents from developed cities, we ground the framework and illustrate its value.
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