The World Urban Hierarchy: Why Does it Matter?

presents a seminar
The World Urban Hierarchy: Why Does it Matter? Global Cities in Networks
World cities and global cities are a hot topic in social science research. Urban scholars increasingly view city
networks as constituting an important structural dimension of the world system. From this perspective, the
great cities of the world are organizational nodes in multiple global networks of economic, social,
demographic, and information flows. This relational view allows us to begin to think about mapping cities in
terms of their structural relationships with one another, describing the structure of a world network of cities,
identifying and explaining hierarchical relations among world cities, understanding the [email protected] of the
world city network into the broader world-system, charting the “mobility” of various urban areas in the
hierarchy, and analyzing how all of this impacts social relations within them. While much of the focus on
global cities and cities in global networks has been squarely on the cities at the very top of the world urban
hierarchy, like the New York, Tokyo, and London, until recently relatively little effort was directed at urban
areas in dynamic regions like East Asia, much less poorer cities in Athe global [email protected] But it is clear that
East Asian cities are increasingly taking on the “command and control” functions of the leading world cities.
And it is also important to try to bring in those peripheral cities that previously were, in effect left Aoff the
[email protected] This presentation will synthesize research my collaborators and I have done using air passenger
connections to capture a more comprehensive network view of the global urban hierarchy, with special
reference to the impressive rise of East Asian world cities and systematic attention to the entire world urban
system. It concludes with some preliminary thoughts on why all this may matter to city leaders, urban
scholars and ordinary citizens.
Prof. David A. Smith
2:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Room 1118, K.K. Leung Building
The University of Hong Kong
Prof. David A. Smith is a Professor of Sociology and Planning, Policy and Design at the University of
California at Irvine. He is the former Editor of SOCIAL PROBLEMS and Co-Editor of CONTEMPORARY
SOCIOLOGY. His research focuses on world cities, comparative urbanization and development (with an
emphasis on East Asia), international networks of travel and trade, and global political economy; he is author
of THIRD WORLD CITIES IN GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE, editor/co-editor of several other books, and has
published many articles in top sociology and urban studies journals.