Urban Economies and Fading Distances
Urban Economies and Fading Distances
I was asked to address the question of why and how urban
economies matter today in a context of globalalization and
telecommunications. Is there something different about their role
today from twenty or thirty years ago? This is, inevitably, one
particular angle into the question of the importance of cities
today, since most cities have probably had few interactions with the
global economy and have felt only minor repercussions from its
growth. It is also partial because cities are about much more than
their economies. But it is an important issue to pursue because many
experts and policy makers appear to be convinced that globalization
and the new information technologies mark the end of the economic
importance of cities.
The dispersal capacities emerging with
globalization and telematics-the off-shoring of factories, the
expansion of global networks of affiliates and subsidiaries, the
move of backoffices to suburbs and out of central cities- led many
observers to assert that urban economies would become obsolete in an
economic context of globalization and telematics. Indeed, many of
the once great industrial centers in the highly developed countries
did suffer severe decline. But, against all predictions, a
significant number of major cities also saw their concentration of
economic power rise. Why?
One way of summarizing my answer to
this question and the argument I will develop here is to say that
place is central to the multiple circuits through which economic
globalization is constituted. One strategic type of place for these
developments, and the one focused on here, is the city. Other
important types of places are export-processing zones or high-tech
districts such as Silicon Valley.
The combination of geographic
dispersal of economic activities and system integration which lies
at the heart of the current economic era has contributed to new or
expanded central functions and the complexity of transactions has
raised the demand by firms for highly specialized services. Rather
than becoming obsolete due to the dispersal made possible by
information technologies, a critical number of cities:
concentrate command functions;
b) are post-industrial production
sites for the leading industries of our period, finance and
c) are national or transnational
marketplaces where firms and governments can buy financial
instruments and spe-cialized services.
How many such cities there
are, what is their shifting hierarchy, how novel a development they
represent, are all subjects for debate. But there is growing
agreement about the fact of a network of major cities both in the
North and in the South that function as centers for the
coordination, control and servicing of global capital.
One extreme case for the analysis of the ongoing importance of
cities in the global economy is the recent growth of electronic
trading networks in finance. I will focus in some detail on this
subject. Introducing cities in an analysis of economic globalization
allows us to reconceptualize processes of economic globalization as
concrete economic complexes situated in specific places. A focus on
cities decomposes the nation state into a variety of sub-national
components, some profoundly articulated with the global economy and
others not. It also signals the declining significance of the
national economy as a unitary category in the global economy.
role of services in the economy:
impact on cities
This new or sharply expanded role of
a particular kind of city in the world economy since the early l980s
basically results from the intersection of two major processes. One
is the sharp growth in the globalization of economic activity. This
has raised the scale and the complexity of economic transactions,
thereby feeding the growth of top-level multinational headquarter
functions and the growth of services for firms, particularly the
growth of advanced corporate services. The second is the growing
service intensity in the organization of the economy, a process
evident in firms in all industrial sectors, from mining to finance.
This has fed the growth of services for firms in all sectors, and
for both nationally and internationally oriented firms.1)
process from the perspective of the urban economy is the growing
demand for services by firms in all industries and the fact that
cities are preferred production sites for such services, whether at
the global, national or regional level. The growing service
intensity in economic organization generally and the specific
conditions of production for advanced corporate services, including
the conditions under which information technologies are available,
combine to make some cities once again a key "production" site, a
role they had lost when mass manufacturing became the dominant
economic sector. They are the world cities or global cities that are
the focus of this paper.
While the decline of industrial centers
as a consequence of the internationalization of production beginning
in the 1960s has been thoroughly documented and explained, until
recently the same could not be said about the rise of major service
cities in the 1980s. Today we have a rich new scholarship, replete
with debates and disagreements, on cities in a global economy.
There are good reasons why it has been more difficult to
understand the role of cities as production sites for advanced
information industries. Advanced information industries are
typically conceptualized in terms of the hypermobility of their
outputs and the high levels of expertise of their professionals
rather than in terms of the work process involved and the requisite
infrastructure of facilities and non-expert jobs that are also part
of these industries. Along with the hypermobility of their outputs
there is a vast structure of work that is far less mobile and,
indeed, requires the massive concentrations of human and
telecommunication resources we find in major cities.
specific forms assumed by globalization over the last decade have
created particular organizational requirements. The emergence of
global markets for finance and specialized services, the growth of
investment as a major type of international transaction, all have
contributed to the expansion in command functions and in the demand
for specialized services for firms.
A central proposition here is
that we cannot take the existence of a global economic system as a
given, but rather need to examine the particular ways in which the
conditions for economic globalization are produced. This requires
examining not only communication capacities and the power of
multinationals, but also the infrastructure of facilities and work
processes necessary for the implementation of global economic
systems, including the production of those inputs that constitute
the capability for global control and the infrastructure of jobs
involved in this production. The emphasis shifts to the practice of
global control: the work of producing and reproducing the
organization and management of a global production system and a
global marketplace for finance, both under conditions of economic
concentration. The recovery of place and production also implies
that global processes can be studied in great empirical
Two observations can be made at this point. One is that
to a large extent the global economy materializes in concrete
processes situated in specific places, and that this holds for the
most advanced information industries as well.
We need to
distinguish between the capacity for global
transmission/communication and the material conditions that make
this possible, between the globalization of the financial industry
and the array of resources -from buildings to labor inputs- that
makes this possible; and so on for other sectors as well. The second
is that the spatial dispersal of economic activity made possible by
telematics contributes to an expansion of central functions insofar
as this dispersal takes place under the continuing concentration in
control, ownership and profit appropriation that characterizes the
current economic system. More conceptually, we can ask whether an
economic system with strong tendencies towards such concentration
can have a space economy that lacks points of physical
A new geography of
centrality and marginality
We can then say that the global economy materializes in a
worldwide grid of strategic places, uppermost among which are major
international business and financial centers. We can think of this
global grid as constituting a new economic geography of centrality,
one that cuts across national boundaries and across the old
North-South divide. It signals, potentially, the emergence of a
parallel political geography. An incipient form of this is the
growing intensinty in cross-border networks among cities and their
The most powerful of these new economic geographies of
centrality at the inter-urban level binds the major international
financial and business centers: New York, London, Tokyo, Paris,
Frankfurt, Zurich, Amsterdam, Los Angeles, Sydney, Hong Kong, among
others. But this geography now also includes cities such as Sao
Paulo, Buenos Aires, Bangkok, Taipei and Mexico City. The intensity
of transactions among these cities, particularly through the
financial markets, transactions in services, and investment has
increased sharply, and so have the orders of magnitude involved. At
the same time, there has been a sharpening inequality in the
concentration of strategic resources and activities between each of
these cities and others in the same country.
One might have
expected that the growing number of financial centers now integrated
into the global markets would have reduced the extent of
concentration of financial activity in the top centers.2) One would
further expect this given the immense increases in the global volume
of transactions. Yet the levels of concentration remain unchanged in
the face of massive transformations in the financial industry and in
the technological infrastructure this industry depends on.3)
growth of global markets for finance and specialized services, the
need for transnational servicing networks due to sharp increases in
international investment, the reduced role of the government in the
regulation of international economic activity and the corresponding
ascendance of other institutional arenas, notably global markets and
corporate headquarters - all these point to the existence of
trans-national economic processes with multiple locations in more
than one country. We can see here the formation, at least incipient,
of a transnational urban system.
The pronounced orientation to
the world markets evident in such cities raises questions about the
articulation with their nation-states, their regions, and the larger
economic and social structure in such cities. Cities have typically
been deeply embedded in the economies of their region, indeed often
reflecting the characteristics of the latter; and mostly they still
do. But cities that are strategic sites in the global economy tend,
in part, to disconnect from their region. This conflicts with a key
proposition in traditional scholar- ship about urban systems,
namely, that these systems promote the territorial integration of
regional and national economies.
Alongside these new global and
regional hierarchies of cities, is a vast territory that has become
increasingly peripheral, increasingly excluded from the major
economic processes that fuel economic growth in the new global
economy. A multiplicity of formerly important manufacturing centers
and port cities have lost functions and are in decline, not only in
the less developed countries but also in the most advanced
economies. This is yet another meaning of economic
But also inside global cities we see a new
geography of centrality and marginality. The downtowns of cities and
metropolitan business centers receive massive investments in real
estate and telecommunications while low-income city areas are
starved for resources. Highly educated workers see their incomes
rise to unusually high levels while low- or medium-skilled workers
see theirs sink. Financial services produce superprofits while
industrial services barely survive. These trends are evident, with
different levels of intensity, in a growing number of major cities
in the developed world and increasingly in some of the developing
countries that have been integrated into the global financial
markets (Sassen 1996: chapter 2).
The urban economy today
This is not to say that everything in the economy of these cities
has changed. On the contrary there is much continuity and much
similarity with cities that are not global nodes. It is rather that
the implantation of global processes and markets has meant that the
internationalized sector of the economy has expanded sharply and has
imposed a new valorization dynamic, often with devastating effects
on large sectors of the urban economy. High prices and profit levels
in the internationalized sector, e.g. finance, and its ancillary
activities, e.g. restaurants and hotels, made it increasingly
difficult in the 1980s for other sectors to compete for space and
investments. Many of the latter have experienced considerable
downgrading and/or displacement; or lost economic vigor to the point
of not being able to re-take their economic space when the recession
weakened the dominant sectors. Illustrations are neighborhood shops
catering to local needs replaced by up-scale boutiques and
restaurants catering to new high income urban elites. The sharpness
of the rise in profit levels in the international finance and
service sector also contributed to the sharpness of the ensuing
crisis. These trends are evident in many cities of the highly
developed world, though rarely as sharply as in major US
cities.(See, for example Le Debat 1994 for Paris; Todd 1995 for
Though at a different order of magnitude, these
trends also became evident towards the late 1980s in a number of
major cities in the developing world that have become integrated
into various world markets: Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, Bangkok,
Taipei, Mexico City are but some examples. (See for more detail the
series edited by Milton Santos on Sao Paulo; Sassen 1994; Knox and
Taylor 1995). Central to the development of this new core in these
cities as well were the deregulation of financial markets,
ascendance of finance and specialized services, and integration into
the world markets, real estate speculation, and high-income
commercial and residential gentrification. The opening of stock
markets to foreign investors and the privatization of what were once
public sector firms have been crucial institutional arenas for this
articulation. Given the vast size of some of these cities, the
impact of this new economic complex is not always as evident as in
central London or Frankfurt, but the transformation has
Accompanying these sharp growth rates in producer
services was an increase in the level of employment specialization
in business and financial services in major cities throughout the
l980s. There is today a general trend towards high concentration of
finance and certain producer services in the downtowns of major
international financial centers around the world: from Toronto and
Sydney to Frankfurt and Zurich to Sao Paulo and mexico City we are
seeing growing specialization in finance and related services in the
downtown areas. These cities have emerged as important producers of
services for export, with a tendency towards specialization.4 New
York and London are leading producers and exporters in financial
services, accounting, advertising, management consulting,
international legal services, and other business services. (For
instance, out of a total private sector employment of 2.8 million
jobs in New York City in December 1995, almost 1.3 million are
export-oriented). Cities such as New York are among the most
important international markets for these services, with New York
the world's largest source of service exports.
There are also
tendencies towards specialization among different cities within a
country. In the US, New York leads in banking, securities,
manufacturing administration, accounting and advertising. Washington
leads in legal services, computing and data processing, management
and public relations, research and development, and membership
organizations. New York is more narrowly specialized as a financial
and business center and cultural center. Some of the legal activity
concentrated in Washington is actually serving New York City
businesses which have to go through legal and regulatory procedures,
lobbying, etc. These are bound to be in the national capital.5)
It is important to recognize that manufacturing remains a
crucial economic sector in all of these economies, even when it may
have ceased to be so in some of these cities. This is a subject I
return to in a later section.
The formation of a new
The rapid growth and disproportionate concentration of producer
services in central cities should not have happened according to
standard conceptions about information industries. As they are
thoroughly embedded in the most advanced information technologies
they could be expected to have locational options that by-pass the
high costs and congestion typical of major cities. But cities offer
agglomeration economies and highly innovative environments. Some of
these services are produced in-house by firms, but a large share are
bought from specialized service firms. The growing complexity,
diversity and specialization of the services required makes it more
efficient to buy them from specialized firms rather than hiring
in-house professionals. The growing demand for these services has
made possible the economic viability of a free - standing
specialized service sector.
There is a production process in
these services which benefits from proximity to other specialized
services. This is especially the case in the leading and most
innovative sectors of these industries. Complexity and innovation
often require multiple highly specialized inputs from several
industries. One example is that of financial instruments. The
production of a financial instrument requires inputs from
accounting, advertising, legal expertise, economic consulting,
public relations, designers and printers. Time replaces weight in
these sectors as a force for agglomeration. That is to say, if there
were no need to hurry, one could conceivably have a widely dispersed
array of specialized firms that could still cooperate. And this is
often the case in more routine operations. But where time is of the
essence as it is today in many of the leading sectors of these
industries, the benefits of agglomeration are still extremely high
to the point that it is not simply a cost advantage, but an
It is this combination of constraints
that has promoted the formation of a producer services complex in
all major cities. This producer services complex is intimately
connected to the world of corporate headquarters; they are often
thought of as forming a joint headquarters-corporate services
complex. But it seems to me that we need to distinguish the two.
While it is true that headquarters still tend to be
disproportionately concentrated in cities, many have moved out over
the last two decades. Headquarters can indeed locate outside
But they need a producer services complex somewhere in
order to buy or contract for the needed specialized services and
financing. Further, headquarters of firms with very high overseas
activity or in highly innovative and complex lines of business tend
to locate in major cities. In brief, firms in more routinized lines
of activity, with predominantly regional or national markets, appear
to be increasingly free to move or install their headquarters
outside cities. Firms in highly competitive and innovative lines of
activity and/or with a strong world market orientation appear to
benefit from being located at the center of major international
business centers, no matter how high the costs.
But what is
clear, in my view, is that both types of head-quarters need a
corporate services sector complex to be located somewhere. Where is
probably increasingly unimportant from the perspective of many,
though not all headquarters. From the perspective of producer
services firms, such a specialized complex is most likely to be in a
city rather than, for instance, a suburban office park. The latter
will be the site for producer services firms, but not for a services
complex. And it is only such a complex that can handle the most
advanced and complicated corporate demands
Headquarters and Cities
It is common in the general
literature and in some more scholarly accounts to use headquarters
concentration as an indication of whether a city is an international
business center. The loss of headquarters is then interpreted as a
decline in a city's status. The use of headquarters concentration as
an index is actually a problematic measure given the way in which
corporations are classified.
Which headquarters concentrate in
major international financial and business centers depends on a
number of variables. First, how we measure or simply count
head-quarters makes a difference. Frequently, the key measure is
size of firm in terms of employment and overall revenue. In this
case, some of the largest firms in the world are still manufacturing
firms and many of these have their main headquarters in proximity to
their major factory complex, which is unlikely to be in a large city
due to space constraints. Such firms are likely, however to have
secondary headquarters for highly specialized functions in major
cities. Further, many manufacturing firms are oriented to the
national market and do not need to be located in a cities national
business center. Thus, the much publicized departure of major
headquarters from New York City in the 1960s and 1970s involved
these types of firms. If we look at the Fortune 500 largest firms in
the U.S. (cf. "Fortune Magazine 500 list") many have left New York
City and other large cities. If instead of size we use share of
total firm revenue coming from international sales, a large number
of firms that are not part of Fortune 500 list come into play. For
instance, in the case of NYC the results change dramatically: 40% of
U.S. firms with half their revenue from international sales have
their head-quarters in New York City.
Secondly, the nature of
the urban system in a country is a factor. Sharp urban primacy will
tend to entail a disproportionate concentration of headquarters no
matter what measure one uses. Thirdly, different economic histories
and business traditions may combine to produce different results.
Further, headquarters concentration may be linked with a specific
economic phase. For instance, unlike New York's loss of top Fortune
500 headquarters, Tokyo has been gaining headquarters. Osaka and
Nagoya, the two other major economic centers in Japan are losing
headquarters to Tokyo. This is in good part linked to the increasing
internatio-nalization of the Japanese economy and the corresponding
increase in central command and servicing functions in major
international business centers. In the case of Japan, extensive
government regulation over the economy is an added factor
contributing to headquarter location in Tokyo insofar as all
international activities have to go through various government
The research and policy agenda
There are a number of emerging issues for research and policy. I
will discuss a few at some length and simply name a few others.
1. The impact of telematics on cities.
globalization have emerged as fundamental forces in the
re-organization of economic space. This reorganization ranges from
the spatial virtualization of a growing number of economic
activities to the reconfiguration of the geography of the built
environment for economic activity. Whether in electronic space or in
the geography of the built environment, this reorganization involves
insti-tutional and structural changes.
Global cities and
global value chains.
The vast new economic topography that is
being implemented through electronic space is one moment, one
fragment, of an even vaster economic chain that is in good part
embedded in non-electronic spaces. There is no fully virtualized
firm and no fully digitalized industry. Even the most advanced
information industries, such as finance, are installed only partly
in electronic space. And so are industries that produce digital
products, such as software designers. The growing digitalization of
economic activities has not eliminated the need for major
international business and financial centers and all the material
resources they concentrate, from state of the art telematics
infrastructure to brain talent.
Nonetheless, telematics and
globalization have emerged as fundamental forces reshaping the
organization of economic space. This reshaping ranges from the
spatial virtualization of a growing number of economic activities to
the recon-figuration of the geography of the built environment for
economic activity. Whether in electronic space or in the geography
of the built environment, this reshaping involves organizational and
structural changes. Telematics maximizes the potential for
geographic dispersal and globalization entails an economic logic
that maximizes the attractions/profitability of such
The transformation in the spatial correlates of
centrality through new technologies and globalization engenders a
whole new problematic around the definition of what constitutes
centrality today in an economic system where:
I) a share of
transactions occurs through technologies that neutralize distance
and place, and do so on a global scale;
II) centrality has
historically been embodied in certain types of built environment and
urban form, i.e. the central business district. Further, the fact of
a new geography of centrality, even if transnational, contains
possibilities for regulatory enforcement that are absent in an
economic geography lacking strategic points of agglomeration. There
are at least two sets of issues that we need more research on:
Leading economic sectors that are highly digitalized require
strategic sites with vast concentrations of infrastructure, the
requisite labor resources, talent, buildings. This holds for finance
but also for the multimedia industries which use digital production
processes and produce digitalized products. What is the range of
articulations and their spatial expression between the virtual and
the actual components of a firm, or more generally, an organization?
What are the implications for urban space, the urban economy, urban
2) The sharpening inequalities in the distribution of
the infrastructure for electronic space, whether private computer
networks or the Net, in the conditions for access to electronic
space, and, within electronic space, in the conditions for access to
high-powered segments and features, are all contributing to new
geographies of centrality both on the ground and in electronic
space. What does this mean for cities?
2. The place of manufacturing in the new urban service
Another subject for research and debate is the
relation between manufacturing and producer services in the advanced
urban economy. (Drennan 1992; Markusen and Gwiasda, 1995). The new
service economy benefits from manufacturing because the latter feeds
the growth of the producer services sector, but it does so whether
located in the particular area, in another region, or overseas.
While manufacturing, and mining and agriculture for that matter,
feed the growth in the demand for producer services, their actual
location is of secondary importance in the case of global level
service firms: thus whether a manufacturing corporation has its
plants off-shore or inside a country may be quite irrelevant as long
as it buys its services from those top level firms. Secondly, the
territorial dispersal of plants, especially if international,
actually raises the demand for producer services because of the
increased complexity of transactions. This is yet another meaning of
globalization: that the growth of producer service firms
headquartered in New York or London or Paris can be fed by
manufacturing located anywhere in the world as long as it is part of
a multinational corporate network. It is worth remembering here that
as GM was off shoring production jobs and devastating Detroit's
employ-ment base, its financial and public relations headquarters
office in New York City was as dynamic as ever, indeed busier than
Thirdly, a good part of the producer services sector is
fed by financial and business transactions that either have nothing
to do with manufacturing, as is the case in many of the global
financial markets, or for which manufacturing is incidental, as in
much of the merger and acquisition activity which was really
centered on buying and selling rather than the buying of
manufacturing firms. We need much more research on many particular
aspects in this relation between manufacturing and producer
services, especially in the context of spatial dispersal and
cross-border organization of manufacutring.
Not unrelated to the
question of manufacturing is the importance of conventional
infrastructure in the operation of economic sectors that are heavy
users of telematics. This is a subject that has received little
attention. The dominant notion seems to be that telematics
obliterates the need for conventional infrastructure. But it is
precisely the nature of the production process in advanced
industries, whether they operate globally or nationally, which
contributes to explain the immense rise in business travel we have
seen in all advanced economies over the last decade. The virtual
office is a far more limited option than a purely technological
analysis would suggest. Certain types of economic activities can be
run from a virtual office located anywhere. But for work processes
requiring multiple specialized inputs, considerable innovation and
risk taking, the need for direct interaction with other firms and
specialists remains a key locational factor. Hence the
metropolitanization and regionalization of an economic sector has
boundaries that are set by the time it takes for a reasonable
commute to the major city or cities in the region. The irony of
today's electronic era is that the older notion of the region and
older forms of infrastructure re-emerge as critical for key economic
sectors. This type of region in many ways diverges from older forms
of region. It corresponds rather to a type of centrality -a
metropolitan grid of nodes connected via telematics. But for this
digital grid to work, conventional infrastructure -ideally of the
most advanced kind- is also a necessity.
3. New forms of marginality and polarization.
growth sectors, the new organizational capacities of firms, and the
new technologies -all three interrelated- are contributing to
produce not only a new geography of centrality but also a new
geography of marginality. The evidence for the U.S., Western Europe
and Japan suggests that it will take government policy and action to
reduce the new forms of spatial and social inequality.
misunderstandings that seem to prevail in much general commentary
about what matters in an advanced economic system, the information
economy, and economic globalization. Many types of firms, workers,
and places, such as industrial services, which look as if they do
not belong in an advanced, information-based, globally oriented
economic system are actually integral parts of such a system. They
need policy recognition and support: they can't compete in the new
environments where leading sectors have bid up prices and standards,
even though their products and labor are in demand. For instance,
the financial industry in Manhattan, one of the most sophisticated
and complex industries, needs truckers to deliver not only software,
but also tables and light bulbs; and it needs blue collar
maintenance workers and cleaners. These activities and workers need
to be able to make a decent living if they are to stay in the
region. (See e.g. Social Justice 1994; Competition and Change 1995;
Yet another dimension not sufficiently recognized is
the fact of a new valuation dynamic: the combination of
globalization and the new technologies has altered the criteria and
mechanisms through which factors, inputs, goods, services are
valued/priced. This has had devastating effects on some localities,
industries, firms and workers. Thus salaries of financial experts
and the profits of financial services firms zoomed up in the 1980s
while wages of blue collar workers and profits of many traditional
manufacturing firms sank.
4. The global city and the national state.
Globalization has transformed the meaning of and the sites for
the governance of economies.(See, e.g. Mittelmann 1996; Competition
and Change 1995; Sassen 1996). One of the key properties of the
current phase in the long history of the world economy is the
ascendance of information technologies, the associated increase in
the mobility and liquidity of capital, and the resulting decline in
the regulatory capacities of national states over key sectors of
their economies. In order to understand what challenges and
opportunities this brings to urban government we need to consider at
least the following points.
1) One is the relation between the
global economy and sub-national units, particularly major cities
that are international business and financial centers. This means
understanding how global processes are partly embedded in strategic
concentrations of resources and infrastructure, such as financial
districts, as well as understanding the importance of what is often
referred to as world-class cultural centers, typically found in
large international cities. These are among the crucial aspects
making cities more important as a nexus with the global
2) A second issue is the extent to which deregulation,
privatization and generally the declining role of the national state
in the economy-all key elements in the current phase of
globalization-may contribute to replace the diad national
state/global economy with a triangulation which brings in
sub-national units, particularly global cities. This would clearly
have major policy implications. A key aspect of the change and the
potential for future change in this relation is the fact that the
content of foreign policy has shifted more towards economic issues,
so that a greater component of what we call foreign policy is today
international economic policy.
The transformation in the
composition of the world economy, especially the rise of finance and
advanced services as leading industries, is contributing to a new
international economic order, one dominated by financial centers,
global markets, and transnational firms. Correspondingly we may see
a growing significance of other political categories both sub- and
supra-national.6) Cities that function as international business and
financial centers are sites for direct transactions with world
markets that take place without government inspection, as for
instance the euro-markets or New York City's international financial
zone (International Banking Facilities). These cities and the
globally oriented markets and firms they contain mediate in the
relation of the world economy to nation-states and in the relations
5. Making claims on the city.
There are major new
actors making claims on these cities, notably foreign firms who have
been increasingly entitled to do business through progressive
deregulation of national economies, and the large increase over the
last decade in international business people. These are among the
new "city users." They have profoundly marked the urban landscape in
many major cities. Their claim to the city is not contested, even
though the costs and benefits to cities have barely been
City users have often reconstituted strategic spaces of
the city in their image: emblematic is the so called hyper-space of
international business, with its airports built by famous
architects, world class office buildings and hotels, state of the
art telematic infrastructure, and private security forces. They
contribute to change the social morphology of the city and to
constitute what Martinotti (1993) calls the metropolis of second
generation, the city of late modernism. The new city of city users
is a fragile one, whose survival and successes are centered on an
economy of high productivity, advanced technologies, intensified
On the one hand this raises a question of what the
city is for international businesspeople, and what their sense of
civic responsibility might be. On the other hand, there is the
difficult task of establishing whether a city that functions as an
international business center does in fact recover the costs
involved in being such a center: the costs involved in maintaining a
state of the art business district, and all it requires, from
advanced communications facilities to top level security (and
Perhaps at the other extreme of
conventional repre-sentations are those who use urban political
violence to make their claims on the city, claims that lack the de
facto legitimacy enjoyed by the new "city users." These are claims
made by actors struggling for recognition, entitlement, claiming
their rights to the city.
The massive trends towards the spatial dispersal of economic
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place-bound because of the combination of resources it requires even
when the outputs are hypermobile.
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Curriculum Vitae Saskia
Saskia Sassen is Professor of Sociology at the University of
Her books are The Mobility of Labor and Capital
(Cambridge University Press, 1988; currently, fourth printing); The
Global City: New York London Tokyo (Princeton University Press,
1991; currently, seventh printing); Cities in a World Economy
(California: Pine Forge/Sage, 1994; now in its fifth printing);
Losing Control? Sovereignty in an Age of Globalization (New York:
Columbia University Press 1996); Migranten, Siedler, Flüchtlinge
(Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt); and Globalization and its Discontents.
Selected Essays 1984-1998. (New York: New Press 1998). She is
currently working on a book sponsored by the Twentieth Century Fund
entitled Immigration Policy in a World Economy: From National Crisis
to Multilateral Management. Her books have been translated into
She has begun a new five year research project A Governance and
Accountability in a World Economy,@ and is director of a new project
on global cities and cross-border networks for the Institute of
Advanced Studies, United Nations University (Tokyo). She has been a
member of several research groups, among them the Japan based
project on Economic Restructuring in the U.S. and Japan, sponsored
by the United Nations Centre on Regional Development and MIT
(1988-1990); the Social Science Research Council Working Group on
New York City, sponsored by the Russell Sage Foundation (1985-1990);
the Social Science Research Council Committee on Hispanic Public
Policy, sponsored by the Ford Foundation (1987-1991); the New
York-London Comparative Study sponsored by the Economic Social
Research Council of the United Kingdom. She also was a member of the
Ford Foundation Task Force for Research on Hispanics; the Research
Working Group on the Informal Sector, supported by the Ford, Tinker,
and Rockefeller Foundations; the Stanford University Project on
Mexico-U.S. Relations; and, more recently, the Immigration and
Economic Sociology Project sponsored by the Russell Sage Foundation
(1992-1995); the Comparative Urban Studies project at the Woodrow
Wilson Center, Washington DC (1992-on); and the Group of Lisbon
sponsored by the Science Program of the European Union and the
Gulbenkian Foundation (Portugal 1993-on). She has served on various
advisory panels, including Queens Borough President Claire Shulman's
Blue Ribbon Panel on Government, and the New York State Industrial
She has also served on several scientific juries, most recently
for the French Government's Ministry of Urban Affairs and the
Belgian Government's Agency on Science and Technology in the Office
of the Prime Minister. She serves on several editorial boards.
She has received multiple awards, among others from the Ford
Foundation, Tinker Foundation, Revson Foundation, Chicago Institute
for Architecture and Urbanism, and Twentieth Century Fund. A 1986
studio she co-directed won the national prize of the American
Institute of Certified Planners. Most recently she was a Fellow at
the Wissenshaftszentrum Berlin, Germany; Distinguished Lecturer at
the Institute for Advanced Studies, Vienna, Austria; Henry Luce
Lecturer at Clark University. She has been a Visiting Scholar at the
Russell Sage Foundation, and a Visiting Scholar at the Woodrow
Wilson International Center for Scholars, and at the Center for
Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. She has been made a
member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a Fellow of the
American Bar Foundation.