Chapter 12: The Repositioning of Cities and Urban Regions in a Global Economy
Saskia Sassen The impacts of global processes on major urban areas are far more diverse than is commonly asserted. The much talked about homogenizing of urban economies due to globalization is only half of the story. The other half is that the specialized differences of cities matter more today than they did in the Keynesian period. To begin to address these issues this chapter examines two major sets of processes. One concerns actual shifts in the scales, spaces and contents of economic activity. The second concerns the needed shifts in our interpretations and policy frameworks to adjust to these novel trends and maximize their benefits and distributive potential. First, the chapter examines some of the key components of ‘globalizing processes’ and what this means for different types of cities and urban regions. Rather than reviewing all components, the chapter singles out three types of processes as critical. The ongoing formation of global cities is one of these, but as this is a well-documented trend, the chapter will touch on it only when it intersects with two other developments which are examined in more detail. One is the novel trend towards the formation of mega regions tends to be a cross-border process. The other is the expansion of cross-border flows connecting cities at diverse levels of the urban hierarchy. To capture the growth and diversification of these inter-city flows, I will examine a sample of cities in terms of 60 variables organized into seven major indicators. This allows us to recognize...
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