Multiple GaWCs

GaWC logo
  Gateways into GaWC

Multiple GaWCs

P.J. Taylor


GaWC is multi-layered and multi-facetted; here is a brief introduction for potential users to navigate our site through their particular interests.



Basic argument: There has been a dual crisis in the world cities literature: first, in general, world city studies are evidentially challenged; and second, specifically, inter-city relations are especially neglected. To understand world cities requires relational data on cities, which is precisely what ‘state-istics', the main source of macro-social science data, does not provide. GaWC's niche has been to fill this lacuna by focussing on inter-city relations, their measurement and their socio-spatial meaning for globalization.

GaWC Research Bulletins:

RB 10 'So-called "World Cities": The Evidential Structure within a Literature'

RB 98 'Generating Data for Research on Cities in Globalization'

See also Research Bulletins 2, 11, 15, 39, 130, 143, 167, 198, 211



Basic argument: The world wide web is a unique media that has two key properties: first, rapid publication; and second, widespread and easy access. As part of a growing ‘global intellectual commons', GaWC takes advantage of these features through providing data and discourse on inter-city relations on a dedicated website that is a worldwide platform for its research field. It is an experiment in institution-as-website for linking together active researchers across the world. Its success is proof that contemporary media enable very ‘light' institutions to have an impact far beyond their materiality.

GaWC Research Bulletins:

RB 1 'Hierarchical Tendencies amongst World Cities: A Global Research Proposal'

See also Research Bulletin 6 and GaWC Data Sets



Basic argument: Cities as place are often reified as actors. GaWC treats cities as process); they are networked. The agents in the process are not cities but the users of cities though their creation of both intra-city clusters and inter-city relations by their everyday practices. From this position, world city networks are specified as unusual triple-level structures: city networks at the world-economy level, cities at the nodal level, and city users, the network-makers, at the intra-city level. The major network of this type is the world city network operating through the office networks of advanced producer service firms. Therefore, typically in GaWC research, it is firms that are our subject (process) but with cities as our object (ultimate purpose).

GaWC Research Bulletins:

RB 23 'Specification of the World City Network'

RB 192 'A Global Roller Coaster? Connectivity Changes in the World City Network, 2000-2004'

See also Research Bulletins 43, 48, 50, 55, 56, 61, 77, 88, 89, 96, 97, 113, 116, 119, 125, 143, 144, 146, 147, 148, 149, 175



Basic argument: The prime methodology underpinning GaWC research has been critical realism; this is favoured because it incorporates both extensive (quantitative) and intensive (qualitative) research. The approach links measurement of (surface) events (quantitative analysis/description of agent's behaviour) with mechanisms and processes (in-depth qualitative analysis/interpretation of agent's behaviour), and theoretical excursus of structural change. Because inter-city relations have been under-studied, much GaWC work has necessarily focussed upon quantitative description, but qualitative research has never been neglected. Quantitative findings are used as context for qualitative explorations.

GaWC Research Bulletins:

RB 120 'In London 's Long Shadow: Frankfurt in the European Space of Flows'

RB 151 'Spatialities of Globalization: Towards an Integration of Research on World City Networks and Global Commodity Chains'

See also Research Bulletin 62, 236



Basic argument: The agents in world city network formation are economic elites, professional business service personnel who can be very mobile in the practice of their work. World cities have very strong cosmopolitan tendencies and these elites form transient ‘ex-pat' communities. Exceedingly influential for their numbers, these highly remunerated workers have been the main focus of GaWC intensive research employing in-depth interviewing techniques. This is where GaWC research intersects studies of corporate management and organization.

GaWC Research Bulletins:

RB 22 'Negotiating Globalization, Transnational Corporations and Global Financial Centres in Transient Migration Studies'

RB 109 'Transnational Elites in the City: British Highly-Skilled Migrants in New York 's Financial District'

See also Research Bulletins 8, 42, 63, 108, 179, 194



Basic argument: Cities are knowledge-rich environments and individual city economic advantage is based upon unique knowledge clusters. Under conditions of contemporary globalization, the question arises whether and how knowledge can be ‘stretched' over city networks to create new and distinctive economic advantages. This is a specific focus upon specialised and tacit knowledge and its use by firms in cities.

GaWC Research Bulletins:

RB 188 'Stretching Tacit Knowledge beyond a Local Fix? Global Spaces of Learning in Advertising Professional Service Firms'

RB 190 'London and New York 's Advertising and Law Clusters and their Networks of Learning'

See also Research Bulletins 18, 121, 124, 183, 184, 185, 195, 215, 217, 222, 233, 234, 246, 247



Basic argument: GaWC is part of a pincer movement against state-centric social science. In contrast to the embedded statism of conventional social science, we emphasize the city (city-region) as the basic unit of change (Jacobs) within a framework of change that is the modern world-system (Wallerstein). In this argument the alleged congruence of social activities at one geographical scale (in sovereign territories: national economy, national society, national politics) is interpreted as an historical interlude of modern practice that culminated in the twentieth century (abetted by social science). Cities are central to the dismantling of this modern construction through multi-scalar globalization.

GaWC Research Bulletins:

RB 29 'A Metageographical Argument on Modernities and Social Science'

RB 165 'World-Systems Analysis and Globalization: A Jacobsean Exploration of Pasts, Presents and Futures'

See also Research Bulletins 29, 30, 31, 83



Basic argument: The ontological privileging of the modern state seriously affected how inter-city relations were theorised. Building upon central place theory, a national urban systems school studied cities as hierarchies bounded by sovereign territories. Subsequently translated to the global scale as the ‘world city hierarchy', cities have been viewed as ‘naturally' hierarchical in their relations. Contra this modelling of inter-city relations on modern state bureaucratic hierarchies, at GaWC we treat inter-city relations as inherently networked and not necessarily hierarchical. Developing a global ‘central flow theory' (hinterworlds) to complement ‘local' central place theory (hinterlands), hierarchy is treated as a contingent conditions that varies historically; in the modern statist interlude, growth of the state favoured hierarchical tendencies, now globalization is revealing the fundamental network character of cities.

GaWC Research Bulletins:

RB 177 'Cities within Spaces of Flows: Theses for a Materialist Understanding of the External Relations of Cities'

RB 214 'Space and Sustainability: An Exploratory Essay on the Production of Social Spaces through City-Work'

See also Research Bulletins 28, 33, 172, 176, 177, 229, 232, 237, 238, 239, 241, 242, 261



Basic argument: This is alternative GaWC. We are pluralist in our approach; our topic is too large and important for us to ignore methodologies that challenge our dominant critical realist position. The impact of selected French philosophers on understanding natures of spaces has been generally influential and actor network theory would appear to be particular suited to understanding inter-city relations from this perspective.

GaWC Research Bulletins:

RB 71 'World City Actor-Networks'

RB 221 'A New Theoretical Basis for Global-City Research: From Structures and Networks to Multiplicities and Events'

See also Research Bulletins 20, 37, 64, 81, 95, 111, 117, 169, 170, 251



Basic argument: The study of airline passenger flows had been the main way in which inter-city relations at the global scale were measured before the GaWC initiative. The data used had several limitations such as airline-policy for using ‘hubs' and the lack of actual origin and destination for travellers. Such problems are being overcome in GaWC projects by the use of new data that allows individual travel paths to be identified.

GaWC Research Bulletins:

RB 152 'An Appraisal of the Use of Airline Data in Assessing the World City Network: A Research Note on Data'

RB 157 'Mapping the Global Network Economy on the Basis of Air Passenger Transport Flows'

See also Research Bulletins 173, 174, 187, 209, 249, 251, 253



Basic argument: Challenging the state in contemporary globalization is widely associated with neo-liberal political agendas. But this conservative position is only one of many ways of interpreting recent erosion of state functions. The GaWC treatment of inter-city relations moves away from the conventional cities competition literature (climbing hierarchies) to emphasis the cooperative relations of cities: cities need each other, networks can only flourish through mutualities. The latter relation is, of course, the central tenet in political anarchisms. Although, being networked, cities are inherently cooperative in nature, there is also competition between cities. The balance between cooperation and competition is treated as contingent (Arrighi's cycles); the modern statist interlude enhanced proclivities for competition, globalization may be a readjustment to mutualities. The challenge is to build a world-systems anarchism.

GaWC Research Bulletins:

RB 107 'Homo Geographicus: A Geohistorical Manifesto for Cities'

RB 149 'New Political Geographies: Global Civil Society and Global Governance through World City Networks'

See also Research Bulletins 9, 28, 34, 144, 231



Basic argument: Cities first, before agriculture and states (Jacobs, Soja). Contra Wallerstein, world-economies as functional divisions of labour are created through cities (organisation and facilitation) and exist alongside political systems or world-empires (Braudel). The capitalist world-economy, or modern world-system, is the instance of the political (inter-state system) and the economy (world-economy) coming together. In this modern interlude, major change is led by ‘hegemonic states' (economically clusters of vibrant cities) with comprehensive power (political economy and socio-cultural). This makes late medieval and early modern European city networks particularly interesting as cities generated a new world before their relegation through statist nationalizations.

GaWC Research Bulletins:

RB 171 'A Lineage for Contemporary Inter-City Studies'

RB 197 'Problematizing City/State Relations: Towards a Geohistorical Understanding of Contemporary Globalization'

See also Research Bulletins 44, 83, 134, 165, 208, 229, 231, 233, 234, 237



Basic argument: Back to practical matters: making a living in a globalising world. A key problem is that policy makers have their authority bounded; there are no network public policy makers. Responsibility for territorial jurisdictions, whether local, national or EU, creates a proclivity for competitive agendas vis a vis other equivalent territories. This accounts for the popularity of cities competition discourses in policy thinking. Mutualities are expressed through twinning and organizations of cities promoting policy comparison and diffusion but these are relatively superficial initiatives. Moving policy from spaces of places to spaces of flows (Castells) requires much more than this: there is a need for public network cadres to complement existing private network cadres operating through networks (leagues) of cities. Policy makers as very modern people are notorious susceptible to changing fashion; the next ‘wave' of policy thinking is likely to be networks.

GaWC Research Bulletins:

RB 20 'Attending to the World: Competition/Cooperation and Co-efficiency in the World City Network'

RB 213 'Constructing New Regional Geographies: Territories, Networks and Relational Regions'

See also Research Bulletins 145, 203, 218, 223, 224, 226, 227, 228, 243



Basic argument: Spatial planning is back on policy agendas as city-regions. This type of planning traditionally combined a dearth of evidence with weak theory (blue bananas, etc.). We are developing a process-led measurement approach to these issues based upon the connectivities between cities. In this way we are finding two types of mega-city regional process: (i) mega-city expansion, a large-scale Jacobs' process, and (ii) construction of mega-regions of proximate cities. The difference is that the former envelopes local medium-sized cities whereas the latter by-passes them. If planning has to take cognisance of process, it follows that two processes requires two spatial planning policies.

GaWC Research Bulletins:

RB 201 'Application of the Inter-locking Network Model to Mega-City Regions: Measuring Polycentricity within and beyond City-Regions'

RB 191 'Advantageous Fragmentation? Reimagining Metropolitan Governance and Spatial Planning in Rhine-Main'

See also Research Bulletins 199, 219, 220, 225, 250



This listing is by no means complete; it has been very much based on GaWC work done by researchers associated with the Loughborough base. There are many other contributions from outside this source that warrant just as much scrutiny. One alternative means of reaching into GaWC is to use the search engine of the home page and insert key words, either geographical (city, country, region) or by activity (business/professional service, other economic sector, non-economic agent). Just enjoy the exploration.