Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Jon Shefner

Committee Members

Paul Gellert, Stephanie Bohon, Derek Alderman


Urbanization and globalization are two processes that have dramatically changed economic, political, and social structures across modern society. When impacts of globalization and urbanization are discussed by academics, policy makers, or the media, the emphasis is usually on large mega-cities such as New York City. Despite this focus on these large urban cities, most of the growth in urban populations across the globe has occurred in smaller cities. The purpose of this study is to highlight some of the ways in which globalization has impacted a smaller city and some of the strategies city leaders and developers have adopted to adapt to these changing structures. This is accomplished by analyzing development in Knoxville, the third largest city in the state of Tennessee. Knoxville is used to understand changing urban structures, such as neoliberal suburbanization and gentrification; changing economic structures, such as deindustrialization and tourism based on place or heritage; and the increasing use of public-private partnerships between the City of Knoxville and developers. This project concludes that this snapshot of development in Knoxville helps integrate growth machine theory into theories of neoliberalism and globalization, which furthers understanding of urban processes. Furthermore, changing economic structures pressure local governments to pursue alternative economic opportunities.

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