The global city: a blessing or a curse?

Date: 9 November 2015

Venue: UAntwerp, Stadscampus, R.014 - Building R, Rodestraat 14 - 2000 ANTWERPEN

Time: 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Organization / co-organization: USOS and IOB

Short description: Debating Development: Erik Swyngedouw (University of Manchester), Jeroen van der Waal (Erasmus University Rotterdam) and moderator Ben Derudder (Ghent University)

About the debate
This debate investigates the link between global city formation and social polarization.

Global city formation entails the process by which core economic activities, from the delivery of elementary goods to the provision of legal and financial advice, shift from the local to the trans-national level. In contrast to earlier production periods, in which prominent cities operated mainly for their immediate hinterland and vice versa, global cities are featured by a widespread geographic dispersal of economic activities.

Global city theory argues that this dynamic fosters social polarization. On the one hand, global cities attract service-dominated and internationally oriented firms, in need of both high and low-skilled labor. On the other hand, economic sectors persevering middle classes, like car manufacturing companies, tend to relocate. In this debate we discuss the social impact of global city formation. When is a city to be considered as a global city?

And are these global cities indeed showing a tendency towards social polarization, as global city theory argues, or are its effects mediated by domestic factors, like the strength of labor unions and/or social policies? By digging deeper into theories of globalization and by drawing upon case study knowledge, this debate seeks to elucidate the question whether global city formation should be propelled (and seen as a blessing) or mediated (and thus seen as a curse).

About the speakers

Erik Swyngedouw is Professor of Geography at the University of Manchester in its School of Environment and Development. He received his PhD entitled “The production of new spaces of production” under the supervision of David Harvey at Johns Hopkins University (1991). From 1988 until 2006 he taught at the University of Oxford and was a Fellow of St. Peter’s College. He moved to the University of Manchester in 2006. Prof. Swyngedouw has published several books and research papers on economic globalization, regional development, finance, and urbanization. In general, he commits his studies to the political economic analysis of contemporary capitalism.







Jeroen van der Waal (Ph.D. Erasmus University Rotterdam, 2010) is associate professor at Erasmus University Rotterdam, and a member of the Erasmus Graduate School of Social Sciences and the Humanities, and Young Erasmus. His research is predominantly located in the fields of political sociology, urban sociology and sociology of health. Prof. van der Waal’s PhD project explicitly addressed the Global City Debate of Saskia Sassen and others on the impact of economic globalization on inequality within cities. The research has been awarded the bi-annual dissertation award for the best PhD thesis in Sociology by the Dutch Sociological Association 2009-2010 (NSV) and was recently published in book version.








Ben Derudder (PhD in Geography, Ghent University, 2006) is Professor of Human Geography at Ghent University's Department of Geography, and an Associate Director of the Globalization and World Cities research group and network (GaWC). Previousy, Prof. Derudder also held positions as a Marie Curie Research Fellow at Monash University (Melbourne, Australia, 2011-2013) and as a Senior Visiting Professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Nanjing (2014-2015). His research focuses on (1) the conceptualization and empirical analysis of world city networks, (2) the globalization of scientific praxis (in geography in particular), and (3) the interaction between (social) network analysis and spatial modeling techniques. His work on world city networks has been published in leading academic journals, and he has co-authored the 2nd edition of 'World City Network: A Global Urban Analysis' (Routledge, 2015, with Peter J. Taylor), one of the key textbooks in the literature.

Entrance fee: Free


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