About Global Cities : London

Opening documents :

1) Saskia Sassen, About Global Cities


2) The World According to GaWC

Created in the UK (Loudsborough University) the Globalization and World Cities Research Network (GaWC) has been operating as the leading thinktank on cities in globalization since 1998. It provides a geographical economic-based overview of the world and its evolving configuration by ranking cities into three categories (alpha, beta, and gamma) based upon their international connectedness.

If the world is observed from the point of view of the connectivity of the world cities, a new image emerges, where each city is virtually oriented to other cities of the same level of inter-connectivity. National or continental maps give way to a new world configuration intended as an archipelago, where each city appears utterly separated from its geographical surrounding and closer to other cities of same level. The leading parameters for the new configuration are based on mutual connections, primarily in the global economic system.


3) Something to do with the “Theory of Core and Periphery”

The countries of the world can be divided into a core and a periphery.The top twenty countries ranked by the United Nations Human Development Index are all in the core. However, of note is the slowing, stagnant, and occasionally declining population growth of these countries. The opportunities created by these advantages perpetuate a world driven by individuals in the core. People in positions of power and influence around the world are often brought up or educated in the core (nearly 90% of world « leaders » have a degree from a Western university). New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, and Israel. Within this region is where most of the positive characteristics of globalization typically occur: transnational links, modern development (i.e. higher wages, access to healthcare, adequate food/water/shelter), scientific innovation, and The “core” consists of Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia, increasing economic prosperity. These countries also tend to be highly industrialized and have a rapidly-growing service (tertiary) sector.


4) Core-Periphery Spatial Relationship

Economic conditions vary across the globe. There are wealthy countries and there are poor countries, and the determination of which countries are wealthy and which countries are poor has generally been determined by the availability of economic opportunities and advantages. There are three core areas of wealthy industrialized countries, all of which are found in the Northern Hemisphere: North America, Western Europe, and eastern Asia. The main market centers of these regions are New York City, London, and Tokyo. These three core areas and their prosperous neighbors make up the centers of economic activity that drive the global economy. Other wealthy countries can be found dispersed in regions with large amounts of natural resources, such as the Middle East, or places of strategic location, such as Singapore. The world’s poorer countries make up the peripheral countries. A few countries share qualities of both and may be called semiperipheries.

The periphery countries and the core countries each have unique characteristics. Peripheral locations are providers of raw materials and agricultural products. In the periphery, more people earn their living in occupations related to securing resources: farming, mining, or harvesting forest products. For the workers in these occupations, the profits tend to be marginal with fewer opportunities to advance. In the periphery, there is a condition known as brain drain, which describes a loss of educated or professional individuals. Young people leave the peripheral areas for the cities to earn an education or to find more advantageous employment. Few of these individuals return to the periphery to share their knowledge or success with their former community.

Brain drain also happens on an international level—that is, students from periphery countries might go to college in core countries, such as the United States or countries in Europe. Many international college graduates do not return to their poorer countries of origin but instead choose to stay in the core country because of the employment opportunities. This is especially true in the medical field. There is little political power in the periphery; centers of political power are almost always located in the core areas or at least dominated by the core cities. The core areas pull in people, skills, and wealth from the periphery. Lack of opportunities in the periphery pushes people to relocate to the core.

Power, wealth, and opportunity have traditionally been centered in the core areas of the world. These locations are urbanized and industrialized and hold immense economic and political power. Ideas, technology, and cultural activity thrive in these core areas. Political power is held in the hands of movers and shakers who inhabit the core. The core depends on the periphery for raw materials, food, and cheap labor, and the periphery depends on the core for manufactured goods, services, and governmental support.


The term “global city” was first used in 1991 by a sociologist called Saskia Sassen.

The factors which make a global city

Economic activity :

–        General : number of firms, volume of transactions

–        London : 33% of the top international companies are their European Headquarters in London

Financial activity :

–        banking and financial services

–        the City is the world’s leading financial centre and the London Stock Exchange is the one of the three most important of the world

Transport infrastructure :

–        airports, underground railway, motorways, trains

–        405 kms of underground railway, 6.4 million people taking the bus everyday, Eurostar linked to Paris

“Human Capital” :

–        Number of inhabitants, number of international migrants, quality of universities and research centres

–        8.5 million inhabitants, “melting pot” of cultures, high-reputation of British universities

Culture :

–        Number of sporting activities, cultural events, international exhibitions

–        Olympic Games (2012), 14 million visitors per year to see its museums, galleries and other attractions

Information and communications:

–        Press agencies, television networks, internet speed

–        The BBC and other television broadcasters are world famous for the quality of their output, and the British press based in London has enormous power

Political factors :

–        Number of ambassadors, consulates, international conferences etc…

–        Home of the British Parliament, big player in political affairs

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