Theorising cities…


Carl Abbott explains that: “World cities are characterized by concentrations of international banks, multinational corporate headquarters, and supporting experts. Decisions are made about the allocation and use of capital on a world scale and transmitted through hierarchically organized institutions and communication networks housed in smaller and secondary cities. …

Anthony King (1990, 7) has explored the ways in which the world city system emerged from the linked development of colonialism and industrial capitalism, finding colonial cities “instrumental in creating the space in which today’s capitalist world-economy operates” by introducing western values, capitalist business organization, and industrialized systems of production. Geographers such as Paul Knox and Peter Taylor have worked to develop precise measures of the degree to which specific cities are engaged internationally and the patterns of influence among such international cities (Knox and Taylor 1995, Taylor 2003, Taylor and Lang 2005).

Other scholars have focused on the internal consequences of the world city system. Saskia Sassen’s Global Cities (1991/2001) remains one of the most detailed presentations. She has described New York, London, and Tokyo as a sort of three-headed capital of the world economy, “centers of finance . . . [and] for global servicing and management” (1991/2001, 324). Sassen’s work is also representative in its attention to the internal consequences of world city status, including the rearrangement of land uses in the service of corporate elites and the emergence of a supporting class of low paid service workers to tend the everyday needs of that elite. She is among a number of scholars (Ross and Trachte 1983, Savitch 1988, Beauregard 1989) who have examined the inequities of dual labor markets for elite workers and support workers, the costs of office core expansion, and the assimilation of immigrants as phenomena exaggerated by the intensity of change within world cities.” (125)

Ref: Carl Abbott Cyberpunk Cities : Science Fiction Meets Urban Theory Journal of Planning Education and Research 2007 27: 122

Reference is made to:

King, Anthony D. 1990. Urbanism, colonialism, and the worldeconomy: Cultural and spatial foundations of the world system. London: Routledge.    Beauregard, Robert, ed. 1989. Atop the urban hierarchy. Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield.    Knox, Paul, and Peter Taylor, eds. 1995. World cities in the worldsystem. New York: Cambridge University Press.    Ross, Robert, and Kent Trachte. 1983. Global cities and global classes: The peripheralization of labor in New York City. Review 6:393-431.    Savitch, H. V. 1988. Post-industrial cities: Politics and planning in New York, Paris and London. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.    Sassen, Saskia. 1991/2001. The global city: New York, London, Tokyo. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.    Taylor, Peter J. 2003. World city networks. London: Routledge.    Taylor, Peter J., and Robert Lang. 2005. U.S. cities in the world city network. Brookings Institution, Metropolitan Policy Program.


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