Globalization and World Cities

GaWC logo
  Gateways into GaWC

R.G. Smith, Department of Geography, University of Leicester, UK

Lecturer: Dr Richard G. Smith. Student workload: 1 2hr examination, 1 essay (3,000 words), 1 group presentation (ca. 40 minutes), several readings for class discussion. Key authors: Saskia Sassen, Peter Hall, Peter Taylor, Jon Beaverstock, Richard Smith, John Friedmann, Manuel Castells, Nigel Thrift, John Short, Chris Hamnett, Edward Soja, Alan Scott, Kris Olds.


The aim of this third year optional module is to introduce students to globalization and the rise of world cities (such as London, New York, Tokyo, and Hong Kong) as the command and control centres of an increasingly interconnected world-economy. To demonstrate how certain cities are fundamental to the world economy and examine how economic, cultural and political processes have consequences for cities and produce uneven geographical outcomes. To analyse how global and world cities form a closely integrated urban network and consequently demonstrate similar social and economic trends. 


By the end of this module students will be able to: understand the major processes of globalization and the reasons for the emergence of world and global cities; show familiarity with some of the major urban places and urban problems of the world; understand and criticize the theoretical and thematic issues arising from a wide and diverse literature that addresses world cities in a globalizing world-economy; understand the connection between theoretical and empirical materials; and, be able to criticize, analyse, and interpret both qualitative and quantitative data. 


In groups students will make a verbal presentation on an allocated topic (this is not assessed). Each group will be required to speak for ca. 40 minutes (displaying an equal division of labour) on the consequences of globalization for the cities of certain continents (you will be allocated the following continents, either North America, Europe, Central-South America & Africa, or Asia & Australasia).

For each video-discussion session students are required to have read an allocated academic paper.


The module will be assessed through an end of semester examination (50%) [Answer 2 questions from 6 in a two hour examination] and coursework (50%).


1. Introduction: Reading list, world city slide show


* Course work essay set (directly associated lectures are 5 & 6)*


2. Key authors

3. The world city hypothesis & hierarchy

4. The world city network

5. Social polarization in global and world cities?

6. Video (Globalization and Inequality)

Related internet site (Hidden Agendas: The films and writings of John Pilger)

7. Economic globalization and the city

* Allocation of Students to Groups for Presentations *


8. Video (The development of Singapore) & Discussion

* Reading: Savage V, "Singapore as a Global City: Change and Challenge for the 21st Century", in Low L (ed.) Singapore: Towards a Developed Status, 1999, Oxford University Press.

9. Cultural globalization and the city

10. Video (Glasgow’s Imagineering) & Discussion

* Reading: Boyle M & Hughes G (1991) "The politics of the representation of 'the real' : Discourses from the Left on Glasgow's role as European City of Culture 1990", Area, 23 207-218

11. Political globalization and the entrepreneurial city

12. Video (Moscow in transition) & Discussion

* Reading: Gritsai O (1997) "Business services and restructuring of urban space in Moscow", Geojournal, 42 (4), 365-376

13. Student Presentations & Discussion - North America

14. Student Presentations & Discussion - Europe

15. Student Presentations & Discussion - Central-South America & Africa

16. Student Presentations & Discussion - Asia & Australasia

--------------------------------------SPRING TERM ENDS ----------------------------------------

17. Technopoles

18. Video (Singapore & Kuala Lumpur) & Discussion

Reading: Richardson R (1997) "Towards the Information Society in Southeast Asia? Experiences in Singapore and Malaysia", Unpublished Report, 1-16

19. World city case study: Sydney

20. Video (Global Shanghai) & Discussion

Reading: Olds K (1997) "Globalizing Shanghai: the ‘Global Intelligence Corps’ and the building of Pudong", Cities, 14 (2), 109-123

Time and place for two guest lectures to be confirmed:

21. Guest Lecture - Professor John Short (Syracuse University)

22. Guest Lecture - Dr Jonathan Beaverstock (Loughborough University)

These guest lectures replace the following lectures:

* World Cities Research in the 21st Century

* World Cities Research in the 21st Century II: Practical introduction to GaWC internet resources



Note. Some of these books are available in the resource centre.

£ = Recommended for purchase

Castells M & Hall P, Technopoles of the World: The making of 21st Century Industrial Complexes, 1994, Routledge.

Castells M, The Rise of the Network Society, 2000, Blackwell (2nd ed.).

Knox P & Taylor P (eds.), World Cities in a World-System, 1995, CUP.

Sassen S, Cities in a World Economy, 2000, Pine Forge Press (2nd ed.).

Sassen S, The Global City: New York, London, Tokyo, 2001, Princeton (2nd ed.).

£ Short JR & Kim Y-H, Globalization and the City, 1999, Longman.


Note. Some of the chapters from these books are available in the resource centre.

Allen J, & Hamnett C (eds.), A Shrinking World?, 1995, OUP.

Beauregard R A (ed.), Atop the Urban Hierarchy, 1989, Rowman & Littlefield

Body-Gendrot S, The Social Control of Cities, 2000, Blackwell.

Borja J & Castells M, The Local and the Global: Management of Cities in the Information Age, 1997, Earthscan.

Brotchie J, Batty M, Blakely E, Hall, P and Newton P (eds.), Cities in Competition, 1995, Longman.

Budd L & Whimster S (eds.), Global Finance and Urban Living, 1992, Routledge.

Castells M, The Informational City, 1989, Basil Blackwell.

Clark D, Urban World/Global City, 1996, Routledge.

Daniels P W, Service Industries in the World Economy, 1993, Blackwell.

Davis M, City of Quartz, 1990, Verso.

Fainstein S, Gordon I, Harloe M, (eds.), Divided Cities: New York and London in the Contemporary World, 1992, Blackwell.

Fainstein S, The City Builders, 1994, Blackwell.

Graham S & Marvin S (2001) Splintering Urbanism: Networked Infrastructures, Technological Mobilities, and the Urban Condition (Routledge, London)

Gravesteijn SGE, Griensven S, & Smidt M C (eds.), Timing Global Cities, 1998, Netherlands Geographical Studies 241.

Habitat (United Nations Centre for Human Settlements), Cities in a Globalizing World: Global Report on Human Settlements, 2001, Earthscan.

Hall P, The World Cities, 1984, Heinemann (3rd edition).

Hannerz U, Transnational Connections, 1996, Routledge.

Hirst P & Thompson G, Globalization in Question, 1999 (2nd edition), Polity.

Johnston R, Taylor P, & Watts M (eds.), Geographies of Global Change, 1995, Blackwell.

King A D (ed.), Re-representing the City, 1996, MacMillian.

Knight R V & Gappert G (eds.), Cities in a Global Society, 1989, Sage.

Leyshon A, & Thrift N, Money/Space, 1996, Routledge.

Marcuse P & Kempen R (eds.) Globalizing Cities: A New Spatial Order?, 2000, Blackwell.

Massey D, Quintas P, & Wield D, High Tech Fantasies: Science Parks in Society, Science and Space, 1992, Routledge.

Mollenkopf J H & Castells M (eds.), Dual City: Restructuring New York, 1991, Russell Sage Foundation.

Moulaert F & Daniels P W (eds.), The Changing Geography of Advanced Producer Services, 1991, Belhaven Press.

Moulaert F & Scott A (eds.), Cities, Enterprises and Society on the eve of the 21st Century, 1997, Pinter.

Sassen S, The Mobility of Labour and Capital, 1988, CUP.

Sassen S, Globalization and its Discontents, 1998, The New Press.

Scott A J ed. (2001) Global City-regions: Trends, Theory, Policy (Oxford University Press, Oxford)

Simmonds R & Hack G (eds.), Global City Regions: Their Emerging Forms, 2000, Spon.

Sklair L, The Transnational Capitalist Class, 2001, Blackwell.

Smith M P, Transnational Urbanism, 2001, Blackwell.

Soja E, Postmetropolis, 2000, Blackwell.

Ward S, Selling Places: The Marketing and the Promotion of Towns and Cities 1850-2000, 1998, E & FN Spon.

Zukin S, The Cultures of Cities, 1995, Blackwell.


Note. Some readings are available in the resource centre.

Note. Over 70 papers (not all of which are listed here) are available as ‘Research Bulletins’ online at the GaWC site. The complete list of papers (which includes many of those here) can be found at:

Amin A & Thrift N (1992) "Neo-Marshallian Nodes in Global Networks", IJURR, 16, 571-587

Archer K (1997) "The limits to the imagineered city: socio-spatial polarization in Orlando", Economic Geography, 73, 3, 322-336

Baum S (1997) "Sydney, Australia: A Global City? Testing the Social Polarisation Thesis", Urban Studies, 34 (11), 1881-1901

Baum S (1999) "Social Transformations in the Global City: Singapore", Urban Studies, 36 (7), 1095-1117

Beaverstock J V (1991) "Skilled international migration: an analysis of the geography of international secondments within large accountancy firms", Environment and Planning A, 23, 1133-1146

Beaverstock J V (1994) "Re-thinking skilled international labour migration: World cities and banking organizations", Geoforum, 25, 323-338

Beaverstock J V (1996) "Subcontracting the accountant! Professional labour markets, migration and organisational networks in the global accountancy industry", Environment and Planning A, 28, 303-327

Beaverstock J V & Smith J (1996) "Lending jobs to global cities: Skilled international labour migration, investment banking and the City of London", Urban Studies, 33 (8), 1377-1394

Beaverstock JV, Smith RG & Taylor PJ (1999) "The long arm of the law: London's law firms in a globalizing world-economy", Environment & Planning A, 31 (10), October, 1857-1876

Beaverstock JV, Smith RG & Taylor PJ (1999) "A roster of world cities", Cities, 16 (6), 445-458

Beaverstock JV, Smith RG & Taylor PJ (2000) "World City Network: A New Metageography?", millennial issue of the Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 90 (1), March, 123-134

Beaverstock JV, Smith RG, Taylor PJ, Walker DFR & Lorimer HN (2000) "Relational studies of globalization and world cities: Three measurement methodologies", Applied Geography, 20 (1), 43-63

Beaverstock JV, Smith RG & Taylor PJ (2000) "Geographies of globalization: US law firms in world cities", Urban Geography, 21 (2), 95-120

Beaverstock JV, Smith RG & Taylor PJ (in press) "The global capacity of a world city: a relational study of London", in Korfman E & Youngs G (eds.) Globalization: theory and practice (Pinter, London), 2nd edition.

Boulding K, "The city as an element in the international system", in Bourne L S & Simmons J W (eds.) Systems of Cities, 1978, OUP, pp.150-8

Budd L (1995) "Globalization, territory and strategic alliances in different financial centres", Urban Studies, 32, 345-360

Burgers J (1996) "No polarisation in Dutch cities? Inequality in a corporatist country", Urban Studies, 33 (1), 99-105

Camagni R P, "From city hierarchy to city network: reflections about an emerging paradigm", in Lakshmanan T R & Nijkamp P (eds.) Structure and Change in the Space Economy, 1993, Springer-Verlag, pp. 66-87

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

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

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

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

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

Friedmann J, & Wolff G, "World City Formation: An Agenda for Research and Action", IJURR, 1982, 3, 309-344.

Friedmann J, "The World City Hypothesis", Development & Change, 1986, 17, 69-83.

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

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

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

Hamnett C (1994) "Social polarization in global cities: Theory and evidence", Urban Studies, 31, 3, 401-424

Hamnett C, "Controlling Spaces: Global Cities", in Allen J & Hamnett C (eds.) A Shrinking World?, 1995, OUP, 103-142.

Hamnett C (1996) "Why Sassen is wrong: A response to Burgers", Urban Studies, 33, 1, 107-110

Hamnett C, "Social polarization and inequality in Europe", in Gravesteijn SGE, Griensven S, & Smidt M C (eds.), Timing Global Cities, 1998, Netherlands Geographical Studies 241, pp. 32-40

Hamnett C, "Social Segregation and Social Polarization", in Paddison R (ed.) Handbook of Urban Studies, 2001, Sage, 162-176

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

Jacobs, J (1984) Cities and the Wealth of Nations, Random House

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

Knight R V, "The emergent global society", in Knight R V & Gappert G (eds.) Cities in a Global Society, 1989, Sage

Knox P L, "World cities in a world-system", in P L Knox & P J Taylor (eds.) World Cities in a World-System, 1985, CUP, pp. 3-20

Knox P, "World Cities and the Organization of Global Space", in Johnston R, Taylor P, & Watts M (eds.) Geographies of Global Change, 1995, Blackwell, 232-248.

Knox P, (1996) Special Issue on "Globalization and Urban Change", Urban Geography, 17, 1 (Whole Issue)

Korff R (1987) "The world city hypothesis: A critique", Development and Change, 18, 483-495

Meyer, D R (1998) "World cities as financial centres", in F-c Lo & Y-m Yeung (eds.) Globalization and the World of Large Cities, United Nations University Press, pp. 410-32

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

Neville W (1999) "Managing the Smart City-State: Singapore Approaches the 21st Century", New Zealand Geographer, 55 (1), 35-45

Sassen S (1994) "The urban complex in a world economy", International Social Science Journal, 139, 43-62

Sassen S (1996) "Whose city is it? Globalization and the formation of new claims", Public Culture, 8, 205-223

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

Scott, A J (1990) "The technopoles of Southern California", Environment and Planning A, 22, 1575-1605.

Short J, Kim Y, Kuss M & Wells H (1996) "The Dirty Little Secret of World Cities Research: Data Problems in Comparative-Analysis", IJURR, 20, 4, 697-717

Smith D & Timberlake M (1995) "Conceptualising and mapping the structure of the world systems city system", Urban Studies, 32, 287-302

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

Taylor P J (1997) "Hierarchical tendencies amongst world cities: a global research proposal", Cities, 14 (6), pp. 323-332

Thrift N, "On the social and cultural determinants of international financial centres: the case of the City of London", in Corbridge S, Martin R, & Thrift N (eds.) Money, power and space, 1994, Blackwell, pp. 327-355

Thrift N, "A Phantom State? International Money, Electronic Networks and Global Cities", in Thrift N Spatial Formations, 1996, Sage, pp. 213-255

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

Waitt G (1999) "Playing Games with Sydney: Marketing Sydney for the 2000 Olympics", Urban Studies, 36 (7), 1055-1077

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

Yeoh B, (1999) "Global/globalizing cities", Progress in Human Geography, 23 (4), 607-616


Publications to check and read to expand your knowledge of the subject are: The Financial Times, The Economist, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research (IJURR), Urban Geography, Urban Studies, Environment and Planning A, Progress in Human Geography, Political Geography, Environment and Planning D.


Globalization and World Cities Study Group and Network

Megacities 2000 Foundation

Hidden Agendas: The Films and Writing of John Pilger

The International Forum on Globalization


These readings are on-line, some are also available in the resource centre:

Emerging world cities in Pacific Asia

Sassen S "Global cities: a challenge for urban scholarship"

On-line lecture (text only) by Peter Hall: "Megacities, world cities and global cities"

On-line lecture (text only) by Saskia Sassen: "Urban Economies and Fading Distances"

On-line lecture (text only) by David Harvey: "Possible Urban Worlds"

Sassen S (1997) "On the 21st Century City", Government Technology, June

Olds K (1998) "Urban mega-events, evictions and housing rights: The Canadian case", Current Issues in Tourism, 1 (1), 2-46

For further information, please contact Dr Richard G. Smith.