The global city

The concept of the “global city” was invented in the 1990s by Saskia Sassen to describe a new type of city that specialized in transnational relations. Initially, the focus was on London, New York, and Tokyo, but the idea was soon generalized by the sociologist Manuel Castells to include a broader range of cities that formed the nodes and hubs in his interpretation of contemporary society as a “network society.” This notion was then expanded to suggest the existence of a “world city network,” emphasizing the global scope of the services offered by contemporary cities. What we now call globalization originated from the combining of the computer and communication industries in the 1970s, which enabled new levels of worldwide contact and organization. This “shrinking” of the world has had profound implications economically, politically, and culturally. One unforeseen effect has been the increasing importance of cities. Although it was initially thought that globalization would reduce the functional importance of cities, the increased worldwide dispersal of human activities has in fact generated new organizational demands to manage, service, and generally facilitate the intensification of global relations.