Global Cities

Global Cities

Global Cities

Global Cities


Global Citiesexamines the distinctive commercial, residential, and spatial features of the major cities of the contemporary world--cities housing the financial and cultural activities that are most consequential for everyone, regardless of where they live. The development of these influential cities is intimately related to the emergence of modern telecommunications, the growth of multinational corporations, the internationalization of economic activity, and the increased movement of cultural symbols and artifacts across national lines.
Accessible to readers with little background in sociology or social science,Global Citiesanalyzes numerous contemporary issues to illustrate concepts and processes pertaining to the most significant global cities. These concrete examples facilitate students' general understanding and show them the contemporary relevance of the material. The book offers a detailed and multifaceted picture of such leading urban centers as London, New York, Tokyo, and Paris, but also branches out to other important cities in the world. It analyzes both the internal features of the cities and the nature of their connections with each other. Global Citiesis ideal for undergraduate courses in urban sociology and other social sciences.


For the past twenty-five years, or so, it has been apparent to most observers that some dramatic changes were underway within major cities, and in their relationships to each other. Increasing globalization was obviously at the core of the transformation, but there was little agreement about the most important aspects of globalization for contemporary cities. Approaching the issue from varied perspectives, social scientists offered different explanations for what was occurring. Many analysts were particularly taken by the economic modifications associated with globalizaton, specifically involving alterations in the occupational and organizational configurations within cities and in the interurban connections that sustain the global economy.

Other analysts attributed much more significance to two sets of interrelated cultural phenomena. On one hand was the emergence of postmodern culture, which was most visible in the major global cities, where new lifestyles and values seemed to be evolving at a breathtaking pace. On the other hand were the increasingly international and rapidly growing cultural industries located in the global cities, from which many of the new ideas and ways of life were emanating.

Those writers who emphasized economic changes typically paid little attention to the cultural analysts, and vice versa. The result was two separate literatures. One of my principal objectives in writing this book was to try to connect these economic and cultural dimensions. I wanted to see, for example, how economically generated changes in the labor force and new cultural emphases combined to produce large groups of people with distinctive lifestyles. From there, I wanted to identify the particular kinds of places within global cities that such large groups chose for their residential areas.

My other major objective was to try to produce a more detailed and multifaceted picture of the global cities than I was able to find in the literature. There is a substantial degree of consensus that there are four leading global cities— London, New York, Paris, and Tokyo—and that they appear to have been the leading cities for several decades. However, there is almost no agreement concerning which cities, if any, follow the leading four on some kind of ranking. Pertinent findings have differed greatly according to the specific indicator investigators employed, and each study typically relied on only one indicator. Further, almost all of the studies were based solely on such economic measures . . .

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