Meta-themes Analysis – Labor and Capital, Vision, Inequality, and Global Influence (PAD 3800)

PAD 3800 - Meta-themes Analysis - Labor and Capital, Vision, Inequality, and Global Influence

Meta-themes Analysis – Labor and Capital, Vision, Inequality, and Global Influence (PAD 3800)

Meta-themes Analysis

Labor and Capital in Global Cities

             Labor and capital applies in the global  cities since most of the manufacturing firms were initially located in the global cities. Movement of people from one global city to the other was in search of employment. Thus, the availability of labor in the global cities was immense. Additionally, the manufacturing firms positioning in the global cities was connected with the availability of capital.  Over time, during the second half of the century, manufacturing firms relocated from the main towns leading to the loss of jobs. The main reason for the relocation of the firms was the capital. Rural areas and less developed global cities provided low cost of manufacturing including the accessibility of the raw materials required for manufacturing.  The manufacturing firms that did not relocate from the major towns resized leading to loss of jobs.

“The loss of manufacturing jobs created long-term social and economic problems from which many cities have still not fully recovered.” (Abrahamson,  2004). The quotation illustrates how the availability of labor and lack of capital for the manufacturing firms has impacted the current affairs in the global cities. It is easy to find out the rates of unemployment in major cities is growing. As people seek to live in localities where the infrastructure such as roads, electricity and availability of social amenities is assured, they end up with few jobs over a pool of many job seekers. The unemployment leads people to settle for low paying jobs. There are few manufacturing firms located in major cities due to the cost in capital. The resizing of the few manufacturing firms in the cities leads to further job loss.

  “Re-centralization has occurred throughout the world, in part due to economic globalization. The location of “key command  and  control  functions”  and  other  producer  services  assigned to  cities  in  the  new  international  division  of  labor  have  tended  to  be disproportionately concentrated in central business districts (CBD) of cities .”(Wu,  2011). The quotation in the  reading helps in understanding the  increased movement of people from rural to urban areas leading to high labor availability.  The concentration of non-manufacturing sectors in global cities such as Shanghai, has led to the increase in labor required. The capital for setting up business is less since the structures such as office spaces are readily available for the firms. Ultimately, many firms moved to towns since there is low cost of operations.

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“…..the creation of a new financial services industry  located  in  key  global  cities  (notably  New  York, London  and  –  now  to  a  lesser  extent  –  Tokyo)  and of a consumption infrastructure which she equates with  residential  gentrification.”( Butler and Lees,2006). The quotation explains how the restructuring of major cities has attracted a new crop of residents who are professionals. The quote relates to the theme of labor and capital as it helps in the creation of industries within the major towns. The global cities have a pool of labor from the new owners of gentrified locations. The new cities keep on advancing as compared to the local towns.

“Dharavi  was  located  in  a  commercially  attractive  area:  20  minutes  from  the  airport,  between  the  city’s two main railways lines, close to two highways and adjacent to the Bandra Kurla Complex, one of  Mumbai’s  most  expensive  commercial  centers”( Iyer ,Macomber,  Arora, 2011). The quotation links the state of the global cities as leading incentives to the growing population. Ideally, the large cities have been turned into office spaces owing to the proximity to the social amenities. The firms easily purchase land and set up complex for facilities for future occupancy. The article connects with the theme as the cost of capital is low given the prospective high returns. The availability of office spaces is connected with an increase in the opportunities available for labor.


 The theme of inequality applies in global cities due to the differences between the high income households and low income households. Inequality emerges in relation to the residential occupancy, income levels as well as the affordability of basic necessities.  The low income households occupy slums that have low living standards as evidenced by lack of the basic sanitation such as enough water. The houses in the slums are built close together leaving little room for proper movement and required socialization. In the contrary the high income households occupy flats and other improved residential areas where the sanitation is up to the mark. The high income households have got higher income levels as most of the occupants are professionals. On the contrary, majority of the low income households have got low payment that is not adequate in meeting the daily needs.

“….this has led to  the  emergence  of  a  polarized social   structure   in   such   cities.   The   critics   have argued that this claim is based more on assertion than evidence.  Whilst  they  agree  that there  is  growing  income  inequality  in  such  cities, they  deny  this  is  social  polarization.” (Butler and Lees, 2006). The article quotation points to the growing inequalities in the urban spaces as propelled by the varying occupants of super gentrified residential homes. The polarized social structure brings forth inequality as low income earners and middle income earners cannot occupy certain  sections of the city since they cannot afford it. Additionally,  the article helps expound on the  increase in the number of middle income earners who are faced with declining incomes as they sell out their properties to shift occupancy to different areas.

“Most   of   the   formal   housing   efforts, since   independence,   have catered  only  to  the  middle  classes  and above, so that the only recourse left for lower  income  groups  has  been  to  live in  the “hutments” commonly  referred to as “slum” housing. ” (Sivam, 2003) . The quotation relates to the theme of inequality as it outlines the different social groups occupying the global cities. Resources for putting up formal housing units have only catered for the middle income families. Affordability of the formal houses brings inequality in the global spaces as the poor households can hardly put up with the renting or purchasing terms. The article brings out inequalities in the poor households being left with the option of slums as an accommodation offer. Eventually, the inequality brings out the issue of sanitation given the type of house that a particular group occupies. Poor income households have got poor sanitation as compared to high income households.

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“Investment in most transport infrastructure and services benefits the rich and not the poor.” (Banister, 2011) The quotation connects with the theme of inequality as it brings out the manner in which the rich and the poor are discriminated against. Whilst, both the social groups matter in a given economy, investment in pertinent infrastructural service benefits the rich more than the poor.  Inequality in transport is seen as beneficial amenities for the rich such as free parking are put in place. In contrast, there is low investment in the public sector which is meant to benefit the poor who do not own private cars.

“Cramped  living  conditions,  coupled  with  the  scarcity  of  clean  water  and  unhygienic  sanitation  facilities,  made  Dharavi  an  extremely  challenging  place  to  live.  There was also rampant pilferage of power, telephony and water lines.” (Iyer , Macomber,  Arora, 2011). The quotation from the case study is illustrative of the inequalities that are prevalent in most of the low income households. For instance, the low income households have no option rather in occupying low income spaces that are unhygienic.  The middle income households are unable to occupy better housing facilities due to lack of affordability.

Global influence and Local control

 Global influence and local control theme applies to global cities as most of the cities have emerged as focal points of their nations. The inception of the major cities was based on the choice of the manufacturing firms initially to have their base in local cities. Eventually the local control of the country was based on the global cities.  The interconnectedness of the global cities helps in formation of a global network that had the distinct capabilities. For instance, the city of Paris in France has had global influence to most of the cities in the world. The kind of influence that the city has on the world is majorly different depending on what other countries are benefitting from it.

“The pervasiveness of the globalization response means that almost all cities are likely to have some features that make them global.” (Abrahamson, 2004).The quotation is linked with the themes of global influence and local control in helping to identify the potential that the local cities have in having global influence. Traditionally, the global cities were identified as Paris, London, New York and Tokyo. Eventually, the cities influenced the operations of other global cities around the world.  Small cities such as Lima, have continually emerged as having global influence due the relocation of an international meat firm. Eventually, the global cities should have both the local control and global influence.

“…transition from isolation to an open door policy, allowing progressive integration into the global economy.” (Wu,  2011). The quotation relates to the theme of global influence and local control as it identifies ways in which the Shanghai city transformation vision aimed at. Despite the city having local control as one of the most developed cities in China, it lacked global influence as it mostly functioned in isolation. The restructuring of Shanghai was instrumental in placing the city strategically to have global influence.  The city will have interconnectedness with other global cities influencing its operations while improving its contribution to the world.

“The global power structure is also changing, as has been seen at the Copenhagen Climate Change summit (COP15, December 2009),where for the first time China, India, Brazil and South Africa (the BASIC countries) have played a key role in determining the nature of the ‘Accord’ and the scale of the financial support for the poorer nations.”( Banister, 2011)  The quotation links the debate on the CO2 emissions on the impact that the global cities has in global influence. Global cities have evolved to the point that traditional states like USA are not the key determinants in the manner that policy formulation that is impacting both the local economies and the global economies is going to be conducted.  Full engagement of the BASIC countries in the debate of the GHC emissions is an improvement of the locus control and the interconnectedness of the various countries in the world.

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“The goal of this “third way” approach is to create a sourcing relationship that combines some of the virtues of vertical integration with the flexibility of sourcing.” (Pisano and Adams,  2009). The quotation expounds of the intention of the VF brands with its headquarters in Pennsylvania to its extend its supply to a global supply strategy.  The company seeking to meet more than its immediate market is an assertion of the global influence it has as much as it has local control. Global supply will meet the needs of many potential customers located in diverse areas of the nation. Just like global cities, organizations start with meeting the basic needs of the area where they are operating in thus creating local control. Over the course of time, the organization or firm will have grown to meet the demands on the international market while  saving on the operational costs due to the differences between various locations.


Vision is a theme that is essential in the creation of the global cities.  Initially, most of the cities were focal points of their local areas. The cities developed as industrial firms as most of the manufacturing firms were based in major global cities. Eventually, the relocation of manufacturing firms from the global cities led to the collapse of the cities that did not have a vision to re-strategize their operations.  Global cities that managed to create a vision, of what they hoped to achieve in terms of infrastructure, housing and plans for the entire livelihoods in terms of landscape programs continued their operations.  Global cities created developmental zones in a bid to reposition themselves as influential in global economies. Vision helps the global cities in planning of the transportation services to ensure that an inter-state movement is swift through elimination of the existing barriers.

“The implementation of urban planning is significant for urban land use and is affected by  the  actions  of  both  local  governments  and  investors.  Having the “right  vision”  does not necessarily guarantee that it will materialize. The realization of such a vision depends largely  on  the  dynamic  change  of  the  city’s  position  in  regional,  national,  and  global political economic systems as well as a commitment from governments and private investors.” (Wu, 2011). The quotation links directly to the theme of vision in global cities as it helps in identification in the manner in which the global vision is going to succeed for a specific city such as Shanghai.  The repositioning of the city is an essential component as it helps bring the city to a global sphere of operation where the activities there in are of a global standard.  The debate as what constitutes the right vision for the city helps in determination of the kind of reform that will be implemented in the reforms. For instance, Shanghai adoption of open door policy helped in propelling the city from the isolation status to a position of global influence.

“Reducing car dependence and thereby congestion and pollution,  has  become  one  of the  key  transport  objectives  of many  developed  cities  and  countries.  The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region1 (as it is now known) is in the envious position of never having become one of the many car-dependent locations; despite relatively high levels of wealth.” (Cullinane,  2003). The quotation is linked as the vision of reducing car dependence is persistent in many global cities. Vision formation and actualization in global cities may not be so automatic due to the differences often evidenced by the public and private investors’ conflict of interest. However, developmental process in Hong Kong has been fairly easy due to the government acquisition of most of the public land. The car-dependency vision has been achieved through regulation of commercial developments within the country. Mostly, the car transport has been reserved to the inter-city states drives.

“As   the   informal   sector   has   become quantitatively significant, policy makers have begun to realize that simply understanding this sector is far from an adequate management    response.    In order   to   develop   policy   to   provide housing to everyone, it is necessary to understand the mechanisms of informal housing delivery.” (Sivam, 2003). The quotation is linked with the vision of providing formal housing in New Delhi.  The vision in one of the global cities aims at providing formal housing to the residents of the global cities where there sanitation facilities such as toilets shall be available to the majority of the city residents.  The vision aims at transforming lives in a global city where the formal administration authority failed in improving the lives of the residents. The success of the vision lay in first understanding of the pertinent need for formal housing, developing a program to address the need and the successful implementation of the program in the community required.

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“The  financing  of  the  redevelopment  hinged  on  unlocking  and  redistributing  booming  real  estate  wealth through more efficient land use and the use of private capital.  Slum residents would get new apartments free of charge and developers would have latitude to make money on what was left over.  The   city   would   improve   living   standards   for   its   citizens   and   obtain   new   privately-funded   infrastructure.” (Iyer, Macomber,  Arora, 2011). The quotation links to the theme of vision in global cities as it outlines the transformation program for the city of Dharavi. The program that is based on the public-private partnership aims at improving the conditions in the slums while providing investment opportunity through the remaining piece of land.  The fluctuation on the prices of mortgage coupled with the huge capital base required for the private investors helped in determination of the success of the project. Dharavi, being one of the largest slums in Asia was influential through the interconnectedness with the major cities through sea and via road network. The vision would help in realigning the city for global influences. Multinational firms could bring their operations in the city given that there is enough and quality space for occupation. The vision holds the future for Mumbai. Its implementation would be the changing point for the global city.


  Abrahamson, M. (2004). Chapter 4: Cities in the Global Economy in Global Cities. New York: Oxford University Press, 71-94.

Wu, J. (2011). Globalization and Emerging Office and Commercial Landscapes in Shanghai. Urban Geography, 32, 511-530

Pisano, G. P., and Adams (2009). “VF Brands: Global Supply Chain Strategy.” Harvard Business School Case 610-022, November 2009.

Butler, T. and Lees, L.(2006). Super-gentrification in Barnsbury, London: Globalization and Gentrifying Global Elites at the Neighborhood Level. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 31, 467-487.

Sivam, A. (2003). Housing Supply in Delhi. Cities. 20: 135-141.

Cullinane, S.(2003). Hong Kong’s Low Car Dependence: Lessons and Prospects. Journal of Transport Geography, 11, 25-35.

Banister,  D.  (2011). Cities, Mobility, and Climate Change. Journal of Transport Geography, 19, 1538-1546

Iyer, L.,Macomber, J.,& Arora, N.(2009). Dhārāvi: Developing Asia’s Largest Slum (A). Harvard Bus. Sch.

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