It is hard to overestimate the scholarly impact of Saskia Sassen’s global city theoretical framework, which revolves around the impact of economic globalization on the social, economic, and political reality of cities in advanced economies. Yet, more than two decades of research dedicated to a ‘global city debate’ have left its main issues unresolved. In Unravelling the Global City Debate Jeroen van der Waal argues that this is because scholars have hitherto merely interpreted urban change according to the central theoretical notions in this debate, and neglected to assess their empirical validity. Therefore he unravels the global city debate into the distinct theoretical notions it consists of and puts these to rigorous empirical tests by using data on one of the most urbanized and globalized developed economies in the world: the Netherlands. By doing so, he shows that the standard research practice in the global city debate leaves much to be desired, for it yields both an under- and overestimation of the impact of economic globalization on urban labour markets in contemporary cities in the advanced economies

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J.P.L. Burgers (Jack) , D. Houtman (Dick)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Centre for Rotterdam Cultural Sociology (CROCUS)
Department of Sociology

van der Waal, J. (2010, June 4). Unravelling the Global City Debate: Economic Inequality and Ethnocentrism in Contemporary Dutch Cities. Centre for Rotterdam Cultural Sociology (CROCUS). Retrieved from