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The Handbook of Service Industries

Edited by John R. Bryson and Peter W. Daniels

Service activities are now acknowledged as key players in economic development, societal change and public policy worldwide. This exciting Handbook not only contributes to ongoing conceptual debates about the nature of service-led economies and societies; it also pushes back the frontiers of current critical thinking about the role of service activities in urban and regional development and the important research agendas that remain to be addressed.
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Chapter 11: Whither Global Cities: The Analytics and the Debates

Saskia Sassen


Saskia Sassen* Introduction The aim of this chapter is to specify the analytic locus of the producer services in the global city model, and to address several key critiques of the model we find in the literature. The global city is an analytic construct, not a description of an actual city. What typifies this type of city is a particular capability that can be conceived of as a production function. I posit that global cities have both an economic and a political production function. Along with top-level headquarter functions, the producer services, especially the advanced corporate services, are at the heart of the economic production function. Global cities have emerged as a major scale in the dynamics that constitute the global corporate economy but also in the formation of a new type of political space and subjectivity.1 Key features of this scaling entail an overriding of older categories for analysis and of older hierarchies of scale. This overriding has brought with it the need for theoretical and methodological innovations and hence, inevitably, a lively debate. The decade of the 1990s saw a multiplication of debates and a launch of a whole new research agenda around questions of cities and the variety of substantive issues they encompass. The 1990s also saw a whole new research literature focused on cities and globalization which has contributed greatly to our understanding of this subject. Many of the new directions in the scholarship on the subject and many of the debates about the global-city...

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