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Saskia Sassen and the Sociology of Globalization: A Critical Appraisal


A sociology of globalization has come into existence in recent years as both an umbrella for a number of traditional sub-fields and also as a theoretical enterprise. Social scientists have attempted to theorize worldwide social transformations in recent decades and to conceive of a global system with its own emergent properties. Among the most widely-cited scholars in this emerging field is Saskia Sassen, a Dutch-born sociologist and economist. This article charts and critically assesses Sassen’s particular sociology of globalization. The main focus is on two interrelated topics for which she is best known: global cities and transnational migration. Ongoing and novel reconfigurations of time and space are central to many globalization theories as globalization redefines the relationship between production and territoriality, economic organization, institutions and social processes. Sassen is most concerned with the spatial, or scalar, realities of globalization as a process that restructures space and place, as evinced in her global cities thesis and her work on transnational migration, as well as in her more recent research on the state, global digital networks and emergent global formations.

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