Sunday, December 24, 2017

Friedmann, John. 1986. "The World City Hypothesis."

Friedmann, John. 1986. "The World City Hypothesis." Development and Change 17:69-83.

This was written in 1986, well before the other books and articles on world cities I've read. It's also written before the rise of the Internet. However, since one of the seminal works on world cities was written by Saskia Sassen in 1991, I suppose that was before the rise of the Internet too.

Friedmann traces his ideas back to works by Harvey and Castells in the 1970s linking "city forming processes to the larger historical movement of industrial capitalism" (p. 69). In the early 1980s, scholars began linking the study of cities to the study of globalization. This is Friedmann's jumping off point. He states, "My purpose in this introduction is to state, as succinctly as 1 can, the main theses that link urbanization processes to global economic forces" (p. 69).

Friedmann provides seven theses:
  1. "The form and extent of a city’s integration with the world economy, and the functions assigned to the city in the new spatial division of labour, will be decisive for any structural changes occurring within it." (p. 70)
  2. "Key cities throughout the world are used by global capital as ‘basing points’ in the spatial organization and articulation of production and markets. The resulting linkages make it possible to arrange world cities into a complex spatial hierarchy." (p. 71) Interestingly, he states that all but two world cities are in core countries (the exceptions being Sao Paolo and Singapore). More recent literature about world cities names a large number of cities in the Global South (periphery) as world cities. He suggests three sub-systems of world cities: an American one centered around New York, Chicago, and LA; an Asian one centered around Tokyo and Singapore; and a Western European one. Notably, when he was writing the USSR was still intact, Germany was divided, and China's economy had not yet taken off.
  3. "The global control functions of world cities are directly reflected in the structure and dynamics of their production sectors and employment" (p. 73). These cities are centers of finance, high level business services like advertising and accounting, and global transport and communications, as well as homes to major corporate headquarters. These cities have a "dichotomized" labor force, with highly paid professionals and many more low skilled workers.
  4. "World cities are major sites for the concentration and accumulation of international capital" (p. 73)."
  5. "World cities are points of destination for large numbers of both domestic and/or international migrants" (p. 75).
  6. "World city formation brings into focus the major contradictions of industrial capitalism - among them spatial and class polarization" (p. 76).
  7. " World city growth generates social costs at rates that tend to exceed the fiscal capacity of the state" (p. 77).

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