Chapter 6: Global Cities, Internationalization and Urban Systems
Ian R. Gordon London School of Economics, UK 1. INTRODUCTION The idea of ‘global cities’ as an increasingly important real-world phenomenon, achieving wide currency over the past 20 years, represents a combination of two broader notions: the ﬁrst involving a progressive internationalization (or, in stronger versions, globalization) of relationships; and the second a revaluation of the advantages of urban agglomeration (and perhaps speciﬁcally of core cities). These all clearly relate to some realities of this period. But Markusen (1999) is right to point out that, as with a number of other popular contemporary ideas such as that of ‘clusters’ (cf. Gordon and McCann, 2000), there is an undesirable fuzziness about the way in which the global (or world) city concept has been employed.1 And, as with many other of these cases, the fuzziness of the global cities idea seems to be not merely unfortunate – given its potential applicability in urban policy making – but actually rather central to the way in which the idea gets applied by those with stakes in this policy arena. Characteristically with such fuzzy concepts, quite strong evidence can be found in support of some of the propositions that they embody, while for others it is substantially lacking – but, without clear distinctions (and an interest in empirical testing), irrelevant evidence lends support to more problematic ideas, even when it is the latter which are crucial to the policy agenda. One very broad example of this slippage can be found in the language used to refer to...
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