Economic Actors and Practices in the World City Network
Edited by Michael Hoyler, Christof Parnreiter and Allan Watson
Epilogue: Placing politics and power within the making of global cities
As the chapters in this book clearly demonstrate, global cities do not come into the world economy pre-formed. Rather a considerable amount of work is undertaken by a range of actors, from individual economic agents, through advanced producer services (APS) firms to institutional actors in order to (re)produce the power of global cities within the contemporary world economy. Indeed, the sheer diversity of such actors and their concomitant spheres of influence is extremely well teased out in the chapters within this collection. This ranges from the individual financiers working in Tokyo’s financial district in Yamamura’s (2018) chapter to Hesse’s (2018) exposition of the shipping companies shaping Hamburg’s port development. Indeed, one of the many strengths of the chapters in this book is their breadth in terms of substantive area of economic activity (from finance, through management consultancy to real estate and infrastructure) to geographical location. In this respect, a much needed diversity of research sites beyond Western Europe is provided through work on elites in both Tokyo and Mumbai. This diversity of research approach is continued through the choice of methods that range from comparative quantitative work on London and New York to in-depth qualitative research with key informants whose daily working lives are vital in shaping the economic fabric of global cities. However, for me, the most significant intervention made by the work contained in this book lies in its focus on agency and agents within global cities. In this respect, the diverse forms of analysis, methodological choices and geographical location all share a commitment to demonstrating how it is the interplay between actors and the institutional and regulatory landscapes within which they operate that are critical in shaping the trajectory of global city development. Indeed, a range of literatures are used to shed light on this intersection, from global production networks in the case of Jacobs (2018), to literature on financialization and the role of APS firms in the case of van Meeteren and Bassens (2018). In so doing, the chapters begin to signal how we must attend to questions of power and politics in the making of global cities and it is this area that I focus on in this short commentary. This area is important, because whilst practice and relational orientated approaches have done much to reveal the range of activities that go on in making global cities, particularly at the micro level, there remains a need to use this approach to address meso- and macro-level questions about the operation of global cities within the wider economy (Hall, 2011).
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