Global cities and the transformation of the International System

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The emergence of a new urban form, the global city, has attracted little attention from International Relations (IR) scholars, despite the fact that much progress has been made in conceptualising and mapping global cities and their networks in other fields. This article argues that global cities pose fundamental questions for IR theorists about the nature of their subject matter, and shows how consideration of the historical relationship between cities and states can illuminate the changing nature of the international system. It highlights how global cities are essential to processes of globalisation, providing a material and infrastructural backbone for global flows, and a set of physical sites that facilitate command and control functions for a decentralised global economy. It goes on to argue that the rise of the global city challenges IR scholars to consider how many of the assumptions that the discipline makes about the modern international system are being destabilised, as important processes deterritorialise at the national level and are reconstituted at different scales.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1923-1947
Number of pages25
JournalReview of International Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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