Trade and Finance Tower Global City

As recently as the 1970s, many of our great cities were in physical decay and losing people, firms, key roles in the national economy, and share of national wealth. As we move into the twenty-first century, a rapidly growing number of cities have re-emerged as strategic places for a wide range of activities and dynamics. Critical, and partly underlying all the other dimensions, is the new economic role of cities in an increasingly globalised world, and the associated architectural and technical revolutions.

Much is known about the wealth and power of today’s global firms and global financial exchanges. Their ascendance in a globalising world is no longer surprising. And the new information and communication technologies are typically seen as the handmaiden of economic globalisation – both tool and infrastructure.

Less clear is why cities should matter more today in a globalised world than they did in the Keynesian world of the mid-1900s. In this essay I sketch a general answer. Not being an expert on Mumbai, or on the rapid and complex globalisation of Indian cities and regions, all I can do is hope that specialised researchers can fill in the blanks. Nevertheless, if I were investigating Mumbai, I would want to see where I would arrive with the analytics of global urban circuits that I propose.

In the earlier period, cities were above all centres for administration, small-scale manufacturing, and commerce. Cities were mostly the space for rather routinised endeavours. The strategic spaces where the major innovations were happening were government, that is the making of social contracts, such as the welfare state, and mass-manufacturing, which included the massive construction of suburban regions. The most common and easiest answers as to why cities have become strategic sites in a global corporate economy are first the ongoing need for face-to-face communications and second the need for creative classes and inputs. There is truth in both notions. But in my reading these are surface conditions – the consequences of a deeper structural transformation. It is in the latter transformation in which the answer can be found. The next few sections develop this.

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Chomsky on Journalism

by justyouraveragecitizen

Manufacturing Dissent:
Noam Chomsky on Journalism
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