In current descriptions of the world, the major industrial societies are often described as ‘metropolitan’. At first glance this can be taken as a simple description of their internal development, in which the metropolitan cities have become dominant. But when we look at it more closely, in its real historical development, we find that what is meant is an extension to the whole world of that division of functions which in the nineteenth century was a division of functions within a single state. The ‘metropolitan’ societies of Western Europe and North America are the ‘advanced’, ‘developed’, industrialised states; centres of economic, political, and cultural power. In sharp contrast with them, though there are many intermediate stages, are other societies which are seen as ‘underdeveloped’: still mainly agricultural or ‘under-industrialised’. The ‘metropolitan’ states, through a system of trade, but also through a complex of economic and political controls, draw food and, more critically, raw materials from these areas of supply, this effective hinterland, that is also the greater part of the earth’s surface and that contains the great majority of its peoples. Thus a model of city and country, in economic and political relationships, has gone beyond the boundaries of the nation-state, and is seen but also challenged as a model of the world.

Raymond Williams, The Country and the City