Saskia Sassen on Global Cities: Opportunities, Challenges and Consequences

Through this interview with Saskia Sassen, Professor of Sociology at Columbia University and a Member of its Committee on Global Thought, we continue on our mission to review the complex world that place branding professionals operate in. Saskia is a student of cities, immigration, and states in the world economy, with inequality, gender and digitization three key variables running though her work.

Learn about:

  • Professor Sassen's perspective on how globalization centers itself in cities;
  • How globalized dense centers can result in expulsion of the local;
  • How place branding can help restore the balance between local and global;
  • The need to focus on place and to enable local entrepreneurial talent and the attraction of talent that wants to contribute to the local economy.

Saskia, what originally sparked your interest in globalization as a research area?

My extreme irritation with the standard description of globalization when the term began to be used back in the 1980s: “a world without borders”, “the world is flat”. Too much was not flat at all and there were all kinds of borders…. So I developed a thesis:

The more digitized and globalized the leading economic sectors were becoming, the more they were going to need a particular kind of center—dense, state of the art places where all the needed specialized knowledge bits about law, investment preferences, etc. could be bought.

The Urban Age project led by LSE in London (UK), provides a great data set on global cities.

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The Editorial Team

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