International Handbook of Globalization and World Cities
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International Handbook of Globalization and World Cities

Edited by Ben Derudder, Michael Hoyler, Peter J. Taylor and Frank Witlox

This Handbook offers an unrivalled overview of current research into how globalization is affecting the external relations and internal structures of major cities in the world.
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Chapter 8: Global City/World City

Ben Derudder, Anneleen De Vos and Frank Witlox


Ben Derudder, Anneleen De Vos and Frank Witlox INTRODUCTION For one thing, the contributions to this book collectively show that in the last few decades researchers have begun to analyse the emergence of a transnational urban system centred on a number of key cities in the global economy. Taken together, the different approaches in this literature are loosely united in their observation that cities such as New York, London and Hong Kong (increasingly) derive their importance from a privileged position in transnational networks of capital, information and people. There is, in other words, a growing consensus that under conditions of contemporary globalization an important city ‘is no longer identifiable for its stable embeddedness in a given territorial milieu. It is instead a changing connective configuration with variable actors which can be thought of as “nodes” of local and global networks’ (Dematteis, 2000, p. 63). However, despite this broad agreement, there are equally obvious differences in the way in which this global urban system has been conceptualized. For instance, it is clear that Sassen’s influential ‘global city’ approach is presented as a specific analytical construct rather than as a mere attempt to refine existing approaches. In the revised edition of The Global City, Sassen (2001a, p. xxi) states that ‘[w]hen I first chose to use [the term] global city I did so knowingly – it was an attempt to make a difference.’ This attempt to discriminate is most commonly targeted against another important approach in particular, that is, John Friedmann’s (1986)...

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