World City Network

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P.J. Taylor, Department of Geography, Loughborough University, UK

A final year geography course at Loughborough University


The formal specification of this module is given in Appendix C for those who like that style of presentation.

The philosophy of the course

What this course is actually about is quite simple. For several years now geographers at Loughborough have been developing new research ideas on world cities. This is organised as the Globalization and World Cities (GaWC) Study Group and Network that has a virtual existence at As final year students it is important that you have the opportunity to experience the advanced research that is being carried out in the Geography Department. This course will enable you to interrogate GaWC and all its works through direct interaction with GaWC’s founder.

  • This reinforces the intellectual philosophy of the department which is to combine teaching and research
  • This is facilitated by a teaching regime that synthesises lectures with discussion
  • This is facilitated by integrating exploration of a virtual resource with face-to-face discussion of its meaning, relevance and worth.

Basic readings

The course is a development of ideas that produced, and go beyond, the key text:

Taylor, P J (2004) World City Network: a Global Urban Analysis London: Routledge

There are several other general texts that may be found useful for initial reading:

Allen, J, Massey, D and Pryke, M (eds) (1999) Unsettling Cities. London: Routledge

Clark, D (2004) Urban World/Global City. London: Routledge

Massey, D, Allen, J and Pile, S (eds) (1999) City Worlds. London: Routledge

Sassen, S (2000) Cities in a World Economy. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge

Sassen, S (ed) (2002) Global Networks, Linked Cities. London: Routledge

Short, J R (2004) Global Metropolitan: Globalising Cities in a Capitalist World. London: Routledge

Short, J R and Kim, Y-H (1999) Globalization and the City. London: Longman

To find information on ‘third world cities' is relatively difficult. Here are some key sources:

Gugler, J (ed) (2004) World Cities beyond the West. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Lo, F-C and Yeung, Y-M (eds) (1998) Globalization and the World of Large Cities. Tokyo: United Nations University Press

Note: Specific key texts are given in the “Course Structure” section, general references are given in Appendices A and B.

What will you get out of this course?

At the end of the course there are six things that should stay with you as part of your intellectual development.

  • Understanding cities as a consequence of inter-city relations: this includes our contemporary world in which cities provide the organizational hubs of globalization.
  • Developing your critical perspective in a new direction: our taken-for granted world is made up of nation-states, this course will undermine that way of looking at the world as being geohistorically transitory.
  • Enhancing your appreciation of the complexities of ‘space’: this core geographical concept will be taken apart and reassembled as spaces of flows and spaces of places, boundaries and mosaics, networks and hierarchies.
  • Adding to your knowledge of globalization: this most popular contemporary concept, so often banded around in a most vague manner, will be given a concrete expression in practices and places.
  • Returning to geography as spatial configuration: the world city network forms a sort of skeleton of globalization, this is a new ‘old’ geography - geographers finding out where things are and how they hang together in the contemporary era.
  • Renewing regard for the cities of the world: cities are often derided as a source of society’s problems, here they will be recognised as the cosmopolitan source of all that is best in humanity.


The course is divided into two parts. We begin by focussing on the nature of cities, and their relation to states. This part of the course concentrates upon materialist explanations of cities. The second part deals specifically with the concepts of world city and global city. Here the idea of a world city network is employed to broaden discussion beyond the material. The main themes are as follows.

Part one: A Materialist Understanding of Cities

A: The nature of cities. General introduction to cities ancient and modern, and to the course as a whole.

Hall, P (2002) Cities and Civilization. London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson
LeGates, R T and Stout, F (eds) (1996) The City Reader. London: Routledge
Pile, S and Thrift, N (eds) (2000) City A-Z. London: Routledge

B: Theory I – Jacobs on externalities and cities. The basic materialist theory of the city.

Jacobs, J (1970) The Economy of Cities. New York: Vintage
Jacobs, J (1984) Cities and the Wealth of Nations. New York: Vintage

C: City origins of the modern world-system. The Pirenne thesis is used as a link between Jacobs theory and world-systems analysis.

Arrighi, G (1994) The Long Twentieth Century. London: Verso
Braudel, F (1984) The Perspective of the World. London: Collins
Pirenne, H (1925) Medieval Cities: their Origins in the Revival of Trade. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press

D: Theory II – Jacobs on moral syndromes, cities and states. This is a theory of how incompatible moral frameworks lead to formation of city networks and territorial states.

Jacobs, J (1992) Systems of Survival. New York: Vintage

E: Cities and ‘development'. This is an exercise in using our theories to undermine the modern ‘development industry' and all its doings.

Texts (previous Jacobs references plus):
Bairoch, P (1988) Cities and Economic Development. Chicago: University of Chicago Press (esp. chapters 19, 27, 28, 29 and 30)

Part two: Cities in Globalization

F: Theory III – world cities, global cities and network society. The key concepts introduced into the world city literature by Friedmann, Sassen and Castells are discussed and criticised for weak empirical validation.

Castells, M (2001) The Rise of Network Society. Oxford: Blackwell (esp. chapter 6)
Sassen, S (2001) The Global City: New York, London, Tokyo. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press
Knox, P L and Taylor, P J (eds) (1995) World Cities in the World-Economy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (esp. Friedmann's chapter 2 and the appendix)

G: World city network – conceptualisation and measurement. Introducing the interlocking network model and inter-city connectivity measurement.

GaWC website: GaWC Research Bulletins 23, 43, 99
Taylor, P.J. (2004) World City Network: a Global Urban Analysis. London: Routledge

H: Cities, regions and globalization. A review of major GaWC quantitative findings.

Texts (Taylor reference above plus):
GaWC website: GaWC Research Bulletins

I: Globalization in cities – cosmopolitanism. Going beyond the materialist basis, here questions of cities as diverse populations are introduced.

Isin, E F (ed) (2000) Democracy, Citizenship and the Global City. London: Routledge
Holston, J (ed) (1999) Cities and Citizenship. Durham, NC: Duke University Press
Plus Global Civil Society Yearbooks (2001- )

J: City policy and globalization. What does this all mean for the planners and politicians who are responsible for the well being of cities and their citizens?

Clarke, S E and Gaile, G L (1998) The Work of Cities. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press
Douglas, M and Friedmann J (eds) (1998) Cities for Citizens: Planning and the Rise of Civil Society in a Global Age. Chichester: John Wiley
Newman, P and Thornley, A (2005) Planning World Cities: Globalization and Urban Politics. London: Palgrave Macmillan
Scott, A J (ed) 2001) Global City-Regions: Trends, Theory, Policy. Oxford: Oxford University Press


The world city literature is a very large set of readings and even restricting our concern to inter-city relations still leaves much to comprehend. The solution to this is a two-pronged strategy. The lectures and discussions on the main themes with their associated readings will provide a general framework of how to understand cities and their relation to contemporary globalization. To complement this, coursework allows students to study one particular aspect of world cities in some depth. To this end students will have a great deal of leeway in their choice of topic and the type of project: you should choose a topic that you find particularly interesting and want to follow up; you should pick a form of project that suits the topic and with which you feel comfortable.

Types of project

There are five types of project that can constitute the coursework.

  • Essay. The standard assessment tool with which you are, of course, very familiar, the difference here is that you have to set your own question. The usual criteria - do you marshal evidence to sensibly answer the question? – applies.
  • Research report. This is a factual intervention into a subject-area. The report will be a presentation and interpretation of results from analysis of available (GaWC) data.
  • Report of policy review. This will evaluate specific policies of cities (both promotional and practical) for engaging with globalization. Information will be obtained from websites of cities.
  • Book review. This will be an informed, critical evaluation of an important text used in the course. It is all about engagement with an author's ideas. (Edited volumes are NOT recommended)
  • Review essay. In this case the informed, critical evaluation is about several items (two books or four articles maximum) where the purpose is to compare and contrast their contributions.

Whatever form is used, the coursework should not be more than 2.000 words.

Choosing a topic

The following matrix specifies the ‘topic-space', the range of possibilities that you can choose from. It is designed to guide you: in the first instance pick among the subject list and then decide at what scope you wish to pursue the subject matter.




City case study

Cities comparison

Cities in a country

Cities in a world region






































(Note that the last category in the table in not covered in detail in the lectures but there is a vibrant literature (see Appendix B) that can provide a solid basis for a good project for students interested in this subject)

Assessment of the coursework will take into account both the ambition of the work and the quantity of effort made (remember that the coursework constitutes one sixth of your first semester work, or one twelfth of all your final year work and budget your time accordingly).


These are available online at the GaWC site. The complete list of papers can be found at: Numbers are approaching 200: you should print off the list for reference and remain on the look out for additions as the course proceeds.

These bulletins chronicle the research history of GaWC at Loughborough as well as including many publications by researchers outside Loughborough. Specific references to the Bulletins will be given during the course but, clearly, as a whole they constitute the major resource underpinning all aspects of the course.

You will also find access to four reports that are relevant to the course:

2005 US Cities in the “World City Network” (P J Taylor and R Lang), Washington, DC; The Brookings Institution

2003 Financial Services Clustering and its Significance for London (pp. 112, P J Taylor, J V Beaverstock, G Cook, N Pandit, and K Pain), London: Corporation of London

2001 Comparing London and Frankfurt as World Cities: a Relational Study of Contemporary Urban Change (pp. 51, J V Beaverstock, M Hoyler, K Pain and P J Taylor) London: Anglo-German Foundation

2000 Amsterdam in the a World City Network (pp.82, P J Taylor) Amsterdam: AME


Boulding, K (1978) ‘The city as an element in the international system' in L S Bourne and J W Simmons (eds) Systems of Cities. NY: OUP, pp150-8

Cohen, R B (1981) ‘The new international division of labor, multinational corporations, and urban hierarchy' in M Dear and A J Scott (eds) Urbanization and Urban Planning in Capitalist Society. NY: Methuen, pp. 287-315

Feagin, J R and Smith, M P (1987) ‘Cities and the new international division of labor; an overview' in M P Smith and J R Feagan (eds) The Capitalist City: Global Restructiring and Community Politics. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 3-34

Gottmann, J (1989) ‘What are cities becoming the centres of? Sorting out the possibilities' in R V Knight and G Gappert (eds) Cities in a Global Society. London: Sage, pp. 58-67

Knight, R V (1989) ‘The emergent global society' in R V Knight and G Gappert (eds) Cities in a Global Society. London: Sage

Meyer D.R. (2003) The Challenges of Research on the Global Network of Cities, Urban Geography, 24, 301-313.

Robinson, J (2002) ‘Global and world cities: a view from off the map' International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 26, 531-4

Timberlake, M (1985) ‘The world-system perspective and urbanization' in M Timberlake (ed) Urbanization in the World-Economy. NY: Academic Press, pp. 3-22

Walters, J (1976) ‘The political economy of world urban systems: directions for comparative research' in J Walton and L H Masotti (eds) The City in Comparative Perspective. New York: Halstead


Hall, P (1998) ‘Globalization and the world cities' in F-c Lo and Y-m Yeung (eds) Globalization and the World of Large Cities. Tokyo: United Nations University Press, pp. 17-36

Knox, P L (1985) ‘World cities in a world-system' in P L Knox and P J Taylor (eds) World Cities in a World-System. Cambridge: CUP, pp. 3-20


Alger, C F (1990) ‘The world relations of cities: closing the gap between social science paradigms and everyday experience' International Studies Quarterly 34 (4), 493-518

Camagni, R P (1993) ‘From city hierarchy to city network: reflections about an emerging paradigm' in T R Lakshmanan and P Nijkamp (eds) Structure and Change in the Space Economy. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, pp. 66-87

Castells, M (1999) ‘Grassrooting the space of flows' Urban Geography 20, 294-302

Short, J R, Kim, Y, Kuus, M and Wells, H (1996) ‘The dirty little secret of world cities research: data problems in comparative analysis', International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 20, 697-717

Smith, D A and Timberlake, M (1995) ‘Cities in global matrices: towards a mapping of the world-sytems city system' in P L Knox and P J Taylor (eds) World Cities in a World-System. Cambridge: CUP, pp 79-98

Walters, P B (1985) ‘Systems of cities and urban primacy: problems of definition and measurement' in M Timberlake (ed) Urbanization in the World-Economy. NY: Academic Press, pp. 63-86


Abu-Lughod. J L (1989) Before European Hegemony: the World-System AD 1250-1350. NY: OUP

Chase-Dunn, C (1985) ‘The system of cities, AD 800-1975' in M Timberlake (ed) Urbanization in the World-Economy. NY: Academic Press, pp 269-92

Chase-Dunn, C (1992) ‘The changing role of cities in world-systems' in V Bornschier and P Lengyel (eds) Waves, Formations and Values in the World System. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction

Lane, F (1979) Profits from Power. Albany: SUNY Press

Parker, G (2004) Sovereign City; the City-State through History London: Reaktion

Spufford, P (2002) Power and Profit: The Merchant in Medieval Europe. London: Thames and Hudson

Taylor, P J (1995) World cities and territorial states: the rise and fall of their mutuality' in P L Knox and P J Taylor (eds) World Cities in a World-System. Cambridge: CUP, pp. 48-62

Tilly, C (1990) Coercion, Capital, and European States, AD 990-1990. Oxford: Blackwell


Alderson, A.S. and Beckfield, J. (2004) Power and position in the world city system, American Journal of Sociology, 109, 811–851.

Godfrey, B J and Zhou, Y (1999) ‘Ranking world cities: multinational corporations and the global urban hierarchy' Urban Geography 20, 268-81

Harris, N (1997) ‘Cities in a global economy: structural change and policy reactions' Urban Studies 34, 1693-1703

Kirby, A, Marston, S and Seasholes, K (1995) ‘World cities and global communities: the municipal foreign policy movement and new role for cities' in P L Knox and P J Taylor (eds) World Cities in a World-System. Cambridge: CUP, pp. 267-89

Knox P.L. (1996) Globalization and Urban Change, Urban Geography, 17, 115-17.

Mitchelson, R L and Wheeler, J O (1994) ‘The flow of information in a global economy: the role of the American urban system in 1990' Annals, Association of American Geographers 84 (1), 87-107

Sassen, S (1999) ‘Global financial centers', Foreign Affairs 78(1) 75-87

Sassen, S (1999) ‘Making the global economy run: the role of national states and private agents' International Social Science Journal 161, 409-16



Rakodi, C (1998) ‘Globalization trends and sub-Saharan African cities' in F-c Lo and Y-m Yeung (eds) Globalization and the World of Large Cities. Tokyo: United Nations University Press, pp. 314-51

Radodi, C (ed) (1997) The Urban Challenge in Africa. Tokyo: United Nations University Press


Bagnasco, A and Le Gales, P (2000) ‘Introduction: European cities – local societies and collective actors?' in A. Bagnasco and P Le Gales (eds) Cities in Contemporary Europe. Cambridge: CUP, pp. 1-31

Castells, M (1994) ‘European cities, the informational society, and the global economy' New Left Review (March/April), 19-32

Dematteis, G (2000) ‘Spatial images of European urbanisation' in A. Bagnasco and P Le Gales (eds) Cities in Contemporary Europe. Cambridge: CUP, pp. 48-73

Kunzmann, K R (1998) ‘World city regions in Europe: structural change and future developments' in F-c Lo and Y-m Yeung (eds) Globalization and the World of Large Cities. Tokyo: United Nations University Press, pp. 37-75

Le Gales, P (2002) European Cities: Social Conflicts and Governance. Oxford: Oxford University Press


Choe, S-c (1998) ‘Urban corridors in Pacific Asia' in F-c Lo and Y-m Yeung (eds) Globalization and the World of Large Cities. Tokyo: United Nations University Press, pp. 155-73

Yeung, Y-m (2000) Globalization and Networked Societies: urban-regional Change in Pacific Asia. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press

•  USA

Drennan, M P (1992) ‘Gateway cities: the metropolitan sources of US producer services exports' Urban Studies 29 (2), 217-35

Esparaza, A X and Krmenec, A J (1999) ‘Entrepreurship and extra-regional trade in producer services' Growth and Change 30, 216-36

Esparaza, A X and Krmenec, A J (2000) ‘Large city interaction in the US urban system' Urban Studies 37, 691-709

Lynch, J and Meyer, D R (1992) ‘Dynamics of the US system of cities, 1950-1980: the impact of large corporate law firms' Urban Affairs Quarterly 28(1), 38-68

Lyons, D and Salmon, S (1995) ‘World cities, multinational corporations, and urban hierarchy: the case of the United States' in P L Knox and P J Taylor (eds) World Cities in a World-System. Cambridge: CUP, pp. 98-114

Nijman J (1996) 'Breaking the rules: Miami in the urban hierarchy' Urban Geography 17, 5-22

Nijman J (1997) 'Globalization to a Latin beat: the Miami growth machine' Annals, American Academy of Political and Social Sciences 551, 163-76


Begg, I (1999) ‘Cities and competitiveness' Urban Studies 36, 795-809

Kresl, P K and Singh B (1999) ‘Competitiveness and the urban economy: twenty four large US metropolitan areas' Urban Studies 36, 1017-27

Lever, W F (1999) ‘Competitive cities in Europe' Urban Studies 36, 1029-44

Lever, W F and Turok, I (1999) ‘Competitive cities: introduction' to the review' Urban Studies 36, 791-3


Abbott, C (1996) ‘The internationalization of Washington, DC' Urban Affairs Review 31 (5) 571-94

Esparaza, A X and Krmenec, A J (1994) “producer service trade in city systems: evidence from Chicago' Urban Studies 31, 29-46

Elmhorn, C (2001) Brussels: a Reflexive World City. Stockholm: Almqvist and Wiksell International

Ganz, A and Konga, L F (1989) ‘Boston in the world economy' in R V Knight and G Gappert (eds) Cities in a Global Society. London: Sage

Grosfoguel, R (1995) Global logics in the Caribbean: the case of Miami' in P L Knox and P J Taylor (eds) World Cities in a World-System. Cambridge: CUP, pp. 156-70

Hill, R C and Fujita, K (1995) ‘Osaka's Tokyo problem' International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 19(2) 167-93

Markusen, A and Gwiasda, V (1994) ‘Multipolarity and the layering of functions in world cities: New York city's struggle to stay on top' International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 18(2) 181-94

Sassen, S and Portes, A (1993) ‘Miami: a new global city?' Contemporary Sociology 22 (4) 471-7

Sirat, M and Ghazali, S (1999) Globalisation of Economic Activity and Third World Cities: a Case Study of Kuala Lumpur. Kuala Lumpur: Utusan


Cattan, N. (1995) Attractivity and internationalisation of major European cities: the example of air traffic, Urban Studies, 32, 303–312.

Hanley, R.E. (Ed.) (2004) Moving People, Goods, and Information in the 21 st century. The Cutting-Edge Infrastructures of Networked Cities. London and New York: Routledge.

Keeling D J (1995) ‘Transport and the world city paradigm' in P L Knox and P J Taylor (eds) World Cities in a World-System. Cambridge: CUP, pp. 115-31

Matsumoto, H. (2004) International urban systems and air passenger and cargo flows: some calculations, Journal of Air Transport Management, 10, 241–249.

O'Connor, K. (2003) Global air travel: toward concentration or dispersal? Journal of Transport Geography, 11, 83–92.

Rimmer, P J (1998) ‘Transport and telecommunications among world cities' in F-c Lo and Y-m Yeung (eds) Globalization and the World of Large Cities. Tokyo: United Nations University Press, pp. 433-70

Smith, D.A. and Timberlake, M. (2001) World city networks and hierarchies 1979–1999: an empirical analysis of global air travel links, American Behavioral Scientist, 44, 1656–1677.

Smith, D.A. and TimberlakE, M. (2002) Hierarchies of dominance among world cities: a network approach. In: S. SASSEN (Ed.) Global Networks, Linked Cities, pp. 117–141. London: Routledge.


Dodge, M and Kitchen, R (2001) Mapping Cyberspace. London: Routledge

Graham, S and Marvin, S (1996) Telecommunications and the City. London: Routledge

Malecki, E., 2002, The Economic Geography of the Internet's Infrastructure Economic Geography, 78, 399-424

Moss, M.L. and Townsend, A.M. (2000) The internet backbone and the American metropolis, The Information Society, 16, 35–47.

Rutherford, J (2004) A Tale of Two Global Cities. Aldershot: Ashgate

Rutherford, J., Gillespie, A., and Richardson, R. (2004) The Territoriality of Pan-European Telecommunications Backbone Networks. Journal of Urban Technology, 11, 1-34.

Townsend, A M (2001) ‘The Internet and the rise of the new network cities, 1969-1999', Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 28, 39-58

Warf, B. (1995) Telecommunications and the changing geographies of knowledge transmission in the late 20th century, Urban Studies, 32, 361–378.


Graham, S (ed) (2004) Cities, War and Terrorism Oxford: Blackwell



1. To introduce students to an interpretation of contemporary globalization that is relational, concrete, geohistorical and avoids state-centrism by focusing on the inter-city links between cities across the world.

2. To confront the difficulties in carrying out global-scale research and to explore ways of overcoming some of the problems.

3. To facilitate the engagement of students in understanding a changing world-economy so as to think constructively about future global possibilites.


A. Knowledge and Understanding.

On completion of this module, students will be able to ground debates about contemporary globalization in a relational understanding of cities and their role in the world economy. They will be able to critique the embedded statism in social science interpretations of globalization and evaluate the world city network as an alternative metageography. Students will experience the dearth of theory and the deficiency of data on inter-city relations that exists in the literature and will be able to explore how GaWC (Globalization and World Cities Study Group and Network based at Loughborough) tackles these issues. In this way they will be confronted by the obstacles, both theoretical and empirical, in the way of carrying out global social research and they will be able to work out how to begin to overcome them.

All this understanding will be premised on two perspectives that students will develop over the course of the module: first, seeing social change through a global perspective within a cacophony of geographical scales, and second, seeing social change through ‘space-of-flows' lenses to counterbalance space-of-place domination in socio-geographical thinking.

B. Skills and other attributes.

Intellectual skills.

Ability (and have the confidence) to identify when theory is surpassing evidence; to situate social science approaches to cities in geohistorical context; to interact with an on-going global research project and its generation of new ideas; and to have competence in evaluating the ‘global' and the ‘spatial' in debates on globalization.

Subject practical skills.

Ability to undertake group-work to explore web sites purposively within and without academia; to evaluate data, both direct and surrogate, in terms of relevance for specified needs; and to interpret basic multivariate spatial analysis.

Key/transferable skills.

Development of discussion and reading skills; critical web exploration skills, analysis interpretation skills; exam skills; group working and project writing.


The concepts of world city, global city, cities in globalization, and mega-city will be explored and the ideas of leading theorists (Hall, Friedmann, Castells, Sassen) critiqued. Empirical deficits and conceptual confusion will be addressed. The GaWC project will be described and major world-city dyads (e.g. London-Frankfurt) and the world network processes measured and interpreted. The variety of networks comprising different aspects of globalization –economic, cultural, social, political – will feature. Throughout the module the city/state relation before, through and after globalization will figure prominently.


Total student effort for the module: 200 hours on average.

Teaching & Learning: 3 hours contact per week comprising lectures, group work and seminar discussions. The remaining time will be for student centred learning, background reading, web exploration, revision and preparation of coursework.

Assessment: There will be a 2 hour examination (50%) and a 2,000 word coursework project (50%).


Castells M (2000) The Rise of the Network Society. Oxford: Blackwell (2nd ed)
Sassen, S (2000) Cities in a World Economy. London: Pine Forge (2nd ed)
Sassen (2001) The Global City. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP (2nd ed)

In addition there are over 170 "GaWC Research Bulletins" available online.


Last update: 10th August 2005