Issues in the Developed World
Edited by H. S. Geyer
Chapter 4: World Cities: Organizational Networking and the Global Urban Hierarchy
P.J. Taylor Introduction Urban studies is a field of enquiry that has ‘gone global’ in the last quarter of a century or so. Three particular developments in the 1970s heralded this ‘up-scaling’ of what had previously been considered as largely ‘local studies’. First, the breakdown of the Bretton Woods settlement in 1971 led to worldwide financial markets and a consequent interest in major cities as ‘international financial centres’. Second, the rise of multinational corporations and the new international division of labour led to interest in cities as ‘command-and-control centres’, city concentrations of corporate headquarters. Third, one particular corporate sector, the airlines, was extending international flights to such a degree that they were seen as constituting worldwide networks connecting cities across all continents. In the 1980s and 1990s these developments became part of the macrosocial process that we know as globalization. And cities became integral to understanding this potentially epochal change, as signalled by the development of a large and vibrant world cities literature. Further, there were early assertions that cities would be the key winners since this globalization ‘unbound’ them from their overarching states (Knight and Gappert, 1989). The development of a new literature is never a straightforward process. There is the basic question of what concepts and ideas are brought forward from existing literatures on the subject. In this case the question was especially pertinent since the literature was part of a wider view concerning a fundamental shift in the organization of society. How new the world city literature...
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