In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section World Cities

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Foundational Texts
  • Textbooks
  • Case Studies
  • Global Cities and Territorial States
  • The Global City Concept as a “Master Narrative”
  • Infrastructures

Geography World Cities
Ben Derudder
  • LAST REVIEWED: 20 December 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 February 2014
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199874002-0035


Large and significant cities have fascinated researchers over the last century. This is indicated by the wide range of terms used to describe cities, whereby over the last couple of decades “global cities” and “world cities” have gradually become key—yet contested—concepts. This entry provides a bibliographic introduction to this wide-ranging and sometimes seemingly incoherent literature. A first major reason for the sometimes-fuzzy character of the “global/world city” literature is that that there have been earlier, related uses of these terms. Although it is impossible to identify a straightforward disjuncture between earlier uses of these terms and what are commonly seen as key foundational texts in the present-day literature, we can nonetheless observe a gradual trend toward conceptualizing the urbanization process at transnational rather than national scales. In earlier writings, the cosmopolitan character of cities was above all interpreted as an expression of their host states’ geopolitical and geoeconomic power. Meanwhile, in the contemporary literature city/state relations are either considered to be fundamentally reworked or deemed largely inconsequential to understanding major cities. A second reason for the wide-ranging meaning of the “global city” and “world city” concepts is that, in addition to both terms sometimes having distinctive meanings and connotations themselves, these concepts have become merged, and sometimes submerged, with similar ways of referring to contemporary cities, including “global city-regions,” “megacities,” and “globalizing cities.”

General Overviews

Paralleling the rising interest in this research field, a number of edited volumes seeking to provide a comprehensive overview to the literature have been published. The most wide-ranging attempts to harness this literature are Brenner and Keil 2006 and Taylor, et al. 2013, which bring together key writings and provide extensive editorial guidance. An overview of recent directions in the global cities literature can be found in Derudder, et al. 2012, an extended update of Knox and Taylor 1995. Key texts focusing on the governance and planning dimensions are Douglass and Friedmann 1998 and Newman and Thornley 2011. Scott 2001 is a widely cited volume containing some conceptual encounters between the literatures on global cities and on the resurgence of regions in the global economy.

  • Brenner, N., and R. Keil, eds. The Global City Reader. London: Routledge, 2006.

    A volume reprinting key pre-2005 writings on global cities. Its major strength lies in the extensive editorial guidance: there are clear and detailed explanations about why the chosen writings have been instrumental in the development of this literature.

  • Derudder, B., M. Hoyler, P. J. Taylor, and F. Witlox, eds. International Handbook of Globalization and World Cities. Cheltenham, UK, and Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar, 2012.

    A recent review of the state of the art in the global cities literature: fifty chapters on different aspects of global city formation, written by experts in this literature. Intended as a follow-up to Knox and Taylor 1995.

  • Douglass, M., and J. Friedmann. Cities for Citizens: Planning and the Rise of Civil Society in a Global Age. Chichester, UK: John Wiley, 1998.

    The first systematic overview of the changed urban planning context under conditions of contemporary globalization. The various contributions present an international range of case studies—from the United States, Latin America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific—grounding the exploration of conceptual ideas in the realities and struggles of everyday life.

  • Knox, P., and P. Taylor, eds. World Cities in a World-System. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511522192

    The first state-of-the art review of the literature, which—at the time of publication—showed that the global/world city was maturing into a (number of) paradigm(s). Comparison with Derudder, et al. 2012 is interesting to appreciate how the literature has evolved.

  • Newman, P., and A. Thornley. Planning World Cities: Globalization and Urban Politics. 2d ed. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

    Second edition of this internationally comparative volume on urban planning of/in world cities. It covers both the global and regional contexts in which planning processes take place, and the different combinations of issues confronting different types of cities.

  • Scott, A. J., ed. Global City-Regions: Trends, Theory, Policy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

    This edited volume explores the intersections between writings on global cities and the extensive literature on the resurgence of regions in the global economy. The book seeks to define and theorize global city-regions, and also offers a number of policy insights into the severe social problems that confront them.

  • Taylor, P. J., J. V. Beaverstock, B. Derudder, et al., eds. Global Cities. 4 vols. Critical Concepts in Urban Studies. London: Routledge, 2013.

    A volume reprinting key pre-2012 writings on global cities. More extensive in its coverage than Brenner and Keil 2006, with unabridged versions of the original writings, but with somewhat less guidance for readers.

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