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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The production of the world city : extractive industries in a global urban economy Surborg, Björn


This dissertation argues for a re-grounding of world city research in world-systems and dependency theory. It proposes to conduct 'vertical world city research', which explicitly investigates the spatial interconnectedness between world cities and peripheral locations of production, rather than focus on the relationships between different world cities. The idea of vertical world city research is partly a response to recent post-colonial critiques of world city research. Advanced Producer Services (APS) have long been considered command and control functions over global capital. Constructions of world city networks have largely relied on data based on large APS firms. While this research has made important contributions to our understanding of the interconnectedness of world cities, the argument of this dissertation is that it may not adequately capture the role of other essential sectors in the global economy. It is proposed that world city research needs to investigate the global control networks over monopolistically (or more correctly oligopolistically) organised processes. The focus of this dissertation is therefore the urban control network of the monopoly over natural resources. The dissertation investigates the locations of ownership control over the world's ten largest non-fuel mineral producers. These ten firms account for more than one third of the world's non-fuel mineral production by value. It also investigates specifically the platinum industry, which is controlled by a very small number of firms. While cities that are often identified as world cities, including New York and London, feature in the lists of cities that host the owners of the global mining industry and the platinum industry in particular, a number of cities in middle income economies are at the top of the list. The last part of the dissertation focuses on the role of nation states in the formation of global cities and how corporate decisions are administered through a network of cities. The effect of these decisions on mining communities is explicitly studied. This part focuses on Johannesburg and South Africa. The research suggests that the spatial organisation of the world economy and the concentration of power is more dispersed than previously suggested.

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