Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology, Columbia University

Co-Chair Committee on Global Thought, Columbia University

Overview of Work



Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages

Princeton University Press, 2008 updated 2nd ed. (1st ed. 2006)

 From the Publisher: Where does the nation-state end and globalization begin? In Territory, Authority, Rights, one of the world's leading authorities on globalization shows how the national state made today's global era possible. Saskia Sassen argues that even while globalization is best understood as "denationalization," it continues to be shaped, channeled, and enabled by institutions and networks originally developed with nations in mind, such as the rule of law and respect for private authority. This process of state making produced some of the capabilities enabling the global era. The difference is that these capabilities have become part of new organizing logics: actors other than nation-states deploy them for new purposes. Sassen builds her case by examining how three components of any society in any age--territory, authority, and rights--have changed in themselves and in their interrelationships across three major historical "assemblages": the medieval, the national, and the global.




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Cities in a World Economy

Pine Forge Press, 2006, updated 3rd ed. (1st ed. 1994)

 From the publisher: The Third Edition of Cities in a World Economy shows how certain characteristics of our turn-of-the-millennium flows of money, information, and people have led to the emergence of a new social formation: global cities. These developments give new meaning to such fixtures of urban sociology as the centrality of place and the importance of geography in our social world.

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A Sociology of Globalization (Contemporary Society Series)

W.W. Norton, 2006

 From the publisher: This groundbreaking study focuses on the importance of place, scale, and nation to the study of globalization. Sassen identifies two sets of processes that make up globalization: the first and more commonly studied set of processes is global institutions, from the World Trade Organization to the War Crime Tribunals; the second and less frequently explored set of processes occur at the national and local level, including state monetary policy, small-scale activism that has an explicit or implicit global agenda, and local politics. Emphasizing the interplay between global and local phenomena, Sassen insightfully examines new forms and conditions such as global cities, transnational communities, and commodity chains. This unique approach to globalization offers new interpretive and analytic tools to understand the complexity of global interdependence.

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The Global City: New York, London, Tokyo

Princeton University Press, 2001 updated 2nd ed. (1st ed. 1991)

 From the publisher: This classic work chronicles how New York, London, and Tokyo became command centers for the global economy and in the process underwent a series of massive and parallel changes. What distinguishes Sassen's theoretical framework is the emphasis on the formation of cross-border dynamics through which these cities and the growing number of other global cities begin to form strategic transnational networks. All the core data in this new edition have been updated, while the preface and epilogue discuss the relevant trends in globalization since the book originally came out in 1991.

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Guests and Aliens

New Press, 2000

From the publisher: Guests and Aliens shows the causes of immigration that historically have resulted in nations’ welcoming incomers as guests of disparaging them as aliens. Sassen describes the relative normality of the pursuit of work across borders during the emergence of the European nation-states and explains the economic and political mass migrations of Italians and Eastern European Jews during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She also discusses the dislocations—particularly those after the end of World War II—that have engendered the “refugee” concept. By mapping the long history of global migration, Sassen shows that the American experience is just one phase in an extended history of border crossing.

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Globalization and its Discontents: Essays on the New Mobility of People and Money

New Press, 1999

 From the publisher: In this collection of essays, Saskia Sassen deals with such current topics as the “global city,” gender and migration, information technology, and the new dynamics of inequality. She demonstrates how vast the chasm between metropolitan business centers and low-income inner cities has become, bringing together cultural and literary studies, feminist theory, political economics, sociology and political science. Incisive and original, she takes on common political, cultural and economics misconceptions of globalization and offers a thoughtful new look at our increasingly global society.

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Losing Control?: Sovereignty in the Age of Globalization

Columbia University Press, 1996

 From the publisher: Examining the rise of private transnational legal codes and supranational institutions such as the World Trade Organization and universal human rights covenants, Saskia Sassen argues that sovereignty remains an important feature of the international system, but that it is no longer confined to the nation-state. Sassen argues that a profound transformation is taking place, a partial denationalizing of national territory seen in such agreements as NAFTA and the European Union.

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The Mobility of Capital and Labor: A Study in International Investment and Labor Flow

Cambridge University Press, 1988

 From the publisher: In this empirical study, Saskia Sassen offers a new understanding of the processes of international migration. Focusing on immigration into the US from 1960 to 1985 and the part played by American economic activities abroad, as well as foreign investment in the US, she examines the various ways in which the internationalization of production contributes to the formation and direction of labor migration.

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Deciphering the Global: Its Scales, Spaces and Subjects

Routledge: Taylor & Francis Group, 2007

 From the publisher: Breaking with prevailing scholarship, Deciphering the Global relocates the terms of the debate surrounding globalization from the heights of global markets, states, and international corporations to the messier, more complex ground of the local, where broad globalizing trends are negotiated in interesting and often unexpected ways. Each of the essays in Saskia Sassen’s collection introduces a new type of complexity and ambiguity to the study of the global, confronting questions of space and the fact that both the local and the global are increasingly multi-scalar. In turn, the chapters in this book expand the analytic terrain of the global, demanding new methodologies and interpretive frames for the study of globalization.

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Global Networks, Linked Cities

Routledge: Taylor & Francis Group, 2002

 From the publisher: In this new collection of essays, Sassen and a distinguished group of contributors expand on the author's earlier work in a number of important ways, focusing on two key issues. First, they look at how information flows have bound global cities together in networks, creating a global city web whose constituent cities become "global" through the networks they participate in. Second, they investigate emerging global cities in the developing world-Sao Paulo, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Mexico City, Beirut, the Dubai-Iran corridor, and Buenos Aires. They show how these globalizing zones are not only replicating many features of the top tier of global cities, but are also generating new socio-economic patterns as well. These new patterns of development promise to lead to significant changes in the structure of the global economy, as more and more cities worldwide are integrated into globalization's circuitry.

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Digital Formations: IT and New Architectures in the Global Realm (with Robert Lantham)

Princeton University Press, 2005

From the publisher: Computer-centered networks and technologies are reshaping social relations and constituting new social domains on a global scale, from virtually borderless electronic markets and Internet-based large-scale conversations to worldwide open source software development communities, transnational corporate production systems, and the global knowledge-arenas associated with NGO networks. This book explores how such "digital formations" emerge from the ever-changing intersection of computer-centered technologies and the broad range of social contexts that underlie much of what happens in cyberspace.

While viewing technologies fundamentally in social rather than technical terms, Digital Formations nonetheless emphasizes the importance of recognizing the specific technical capacities of digital technologies. Importantly, it identifies digital formations as a new area of study in the social sciences and in thinking about globalization. The ten chapters, by leading scholars, examine key social, political, and economic developments associated with these new configurations of organization, space, and interaction. They address the operation of digital formations and their implications for the development of longstanding institutions and for their wider contexts and fields, and they consider the political, economic, and other forces shaping those formations and how the formations, in turn, are shaping such forces.


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SELECTED ARTICLES (2000 - present):




"L'Emergence D'une Nouvelle Geographie Transnationale" Le Monde Hors Serie (2010)


"The Global Inside the National: A Research Agenda for Sociology" Sociopedia.isa (2010)


"The City: Its Return as a Lens for Social Theory" City, Culture and Society (2010) 1:3-10


"A Savage Sorting of Winners and Losers: Contemporary Versions of Primitive Accumulation," Globalizations, 7: 1, 23 - 50


"Cities are at the center of our environmental future," S.A.P.I.EN.S, Vol 2, Issue 3, 2010


"Global inter-city networks and commodity chains: any intersections?", Global Networks 10, 1 (2010) 150-63




"Cities Today: A New Frontier for Major Developments," ANNALS, AAPSS, 626, November 2009


"Looming Disaster and Endless Opportunity: Our World's Megacities," Megacities No. 2, 2009



"Sociologue Globale," Le Monde, 27 Mars 2009




"Mortgage Capital and its Particularities: A New Frontier for Global Finance." Journal of International Affairs, vol. 62(1): 187-212.


"Two Stops in Today's New Global Geographies: Shaping Novel Labor Supplies and Employment Regimes," American Behavioral Scientist, vol.52, no.3: 457-496.


"Challenges Facing Global Cities in the 21st Century," International Herald Tribune


“Re-Assembling the UrbanUrban Geography, vol. 29(2): 113-126.


“Neither Global nor National: Novel Assemblages of Territory, Authority, and RightsEthics & Global Politics, vol. 1(1-2).




"Response [to Benhabib]", European Journal of Political Theory, vol.6 (4): 431-444.




"Why Cities Matter," in: Cities. Architecture and Society, exhibition catalogue of the 10. Architecture Biennale Venice, Marsilio, Venice 2006, p. 26-51


"Making Public Interventions in Today's Massive Cities." Static, London Consortium.



“The Repositioning of Citizenship and Alienage: Emergent Subjects and Spaces for PoliticsGlobalizations, vol. 2(1): 79-94.


“Regulating Immigration in a Global Age: A New Policy Landscape.” Parallax, vol.11(1): 35-45.


“When National Territory is Home to the Global: Old Borders to Novel BorderingsNew Political Economy, vol. 10(4).


“Digging the penumbra of master categoriesBritish Journal of Sociology, vol. 56(3).


“The Global City: Introducing a Concept Brown Journal of World Affairs, vol. 11(2): 27-43.


“The Ecology of Global Economic Power: Changing Investment Practices to Promote Environmental SustainabilityJournal of Foreign Affairs, Spring 2005, Vol. 58(2).


[with Tim May, Beth Perry, Patrick Le Gales, and Mike Savage] “The Future of Urban SociologySociology: the Journal of the British Sociological Association, Vol.39(2).




“Local Actors in Global PoliticsCurrent Sociology, Vol. 52(4)


“Going Beyond the National State in the USA: The Politics of Minoritized Groups in Global CitiesDiogenes, vol.51(3).




“The Participation of States and Citizens in Global Governance.” Symposium – Globalization and Governance: The Prospects for Democracy. Indiana Journal of Legal Studies, vol. 10, no. 5, iss.1


 “Globalization or Denationalization Review of International Political Economy 10(1) Feb.: 1-22


“The State and Globalization Interventions: The International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, vol. 5(2): 241-248.




 “Towards a Sociology of Information TechnologyCurrent Sociology, vol. 50(3): 365-388.


 “Locating Cities on Global Circuits Environment & Urbanization, vol.14(1)


“Governance Hotspots: Challenges We Must Confront in the Post-September 11 WorldTheory, Culture & Society, vol.19(4): 233-244.




“The City: Between Topographic Representation and Spatialized Power ProjectsArt Journal, vol. 60(2): 12-20.


“Global Cities and Developmentalist States: How to Derail What Could Be an Interesting Debate: A Response to Hill and KimUrban Studies, Vol.38(13): 2537-2540.


“Impacts of Information Technologies on Urban Economies and PoliticsInternational Journal of Urban and Regional Research, vol.25(2).



“Digital Networks and the State: Some Governance QuestionsTheory, Culture & Society, vol.17(4): 19-33. 


“Women’s Burden: Counter-Geographies of Globalization and the Feminization of SurvivalJournal of International Affairs, vol.53(2).


“Territory and Territoriality in the Global EconomyInternational Sociology, vol.15(2): 372-393.


“Regulating Immigration in a Global Age: A New Policy LandscapeThe ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, vol.570, July.


“Excavating Power: In Search of Frontier Zones and New ActorsTheory, Culture & Society, vol. 17(1): 163-170.


“New frontiers facing urban sociology at the MillenniumBritish Journal of Sociology, vol. 51(1):143-159.


 “The State and Economic Globalization: Any Implications for International Law?” Chicago Journal of International Law, Spring 2000, vol. 1(1).



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"The Specialised Differences of Cities Matter in Today's Global Economy,” in Reforming the City: Responses to the Global Financial Crisis, Sam Whimster (ed.), Erf at London Metropolitan University: 2009.


"Cities in Today’s Global Age: An exploration of the new economic role of cities and the networks they form in an increasingly global world” in Connecting Cities: Networks (A Research Publication of the 9th World Congress of Metropolis), Metropolis Congress: 2008.


"Global Cities and Survival Circuits,” in Globalization: The Transformation of Social Worlds (2nd Ed.), eds. D. Stanley Eitzen and Maxine Baca Zinn. Florence, KY: Wadsworth Publishing. 2008 (1st ed. 2005).


"Electronic networks, power and democracy” pp.339-361 in The Oxford Handbook of Information and Communications Technologies Robin Mansell, Chrisanthi Avgerou, Danny Quah and Roger Silverstone (eds.), Oxford University Press: 2007.


"L’ιmergence d’une multiplication d’assemblages de territoire, d’autoritιs et de droits" in Les Sciences sociales en mutation, Michel Wieviorka (ed.). Paris: Auxerre, Editions Sciences Humaines: 2007.


"Urban Sociology in the 21st Century,” pp. 476-486 in 21st Century Sociology: A Reference Handbook, Clifton D. Bryant and Dennis L. Peck (eds.), Sage: 2006.


“Cities in a World Economy.” In The Globalization and Development Reader: Perspectives on Development and Global Change, eds. J. Timmons Roberts and Amy Bellone Hite. Malden, MA: Blackwell. 2006.


"Built Complexity and Public Engagements." In David Adjaye: Making Public Buildings: Specificity, Customization, Imbrication, Peter Allison (ed.). London: Thames & Hudson. 2006.


“Commentary.” In Dialogues on Migration Policy, eds. Marco Giugni and Florence Passy. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. 2006.


“Scale and Span in a Global Digital World.’ In Architecture and Design in Europe and America, 1750-2000, eds. Abigail Harrison-Moore and Dorothy Rowe. Malden, MA: Blackwell. 2006.


“A Global City,” in A Companion to the Anthropology of Politics, eds. David Nugent and Joan Vincent. Malden, MA: Blackwell. 2006.


“The Embeddedness of Electronic Markets: The case of global capital markets.” In The Sociology of Financial Markets, eds. Karin Knorr Cetina and Alex Preda. New York: Oxford University Press. 2006.


 “Theoretical and Empirical Elements in the Study of Globalization.” In Inclusion and Exclusion in the Global Arena, ed. Max Kirsch. New York: Routledge. 2006.


“The City: Its Return as a Lens for Social Theory,” pp. 457-470 in The Sage Handbook of Sociology Craig Calhoun, Chris Rojek and Bryan Turner (eds.), Sage: 2005.


“The Global City: Strategic Site, New Frontier,” in Managing Urban Frontiers: Sustainability and Urban Growth in Developing Countries, eds. Marco Kainer, Martina Koll-Schretzenmayr, and Willy A. Schmind. Burlington, VT: Ashgate. 2005.


“New Global Classes: Implications for politics.” In The New Egalitarianism, eds. Anthony Giddens and Patrick Diamond. Malden, MA: Polity Press. 2005.


“Reading the City in a Global Digital Age,” in Future City, eds. Stephen Read, Jόrgen Rosemann and Job van Eldijk. London: Spon Press. 2005


“Electronic Markets and Activist Networks: The Weight of Social Logics in Digital Formations.” 2004. Digital Formations: New Architectures for Global Order. Eds. Robert Lantham and Saskia Sassen. Princeton University Press. [click for PDF]


“The City: Localizations of the Global,” in Perspecta 36: “Juxtapositions”: The Yale School of Architecture Journal, eds. Macky McCleary and Jennifer Silbert. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. February 2004.


 “Globalization After September 11” in The Anthropology of Development and Globalization: From Classical Political Economy to Contemporary Neoliberalism, eds. Marc Edelman and Angelique Haugerud. Malden, MA: Blackwell. 2004.


“Beyond Sovereignty: de facto transnationalism in immigration policy,” in Worlds on the Move: Globalisation, Migration and Cultural Security, eds. Jonathan Friedman and Shalini Randeria. London: I.B. Tauris Publishers. 2004.


“De-nationalized state agendas and privatized norm-making,” in Public Governance in the Age of Globalization, ed. Karl-Heinz Ladeur. Burlington, VT: Ashgate. 2004


“The formation of intercity geographies of centrality,” in Shanghai: Architecture & Urbanism for Modern China, eds. Peter G. Rowe and Seng Kuan. Munich: Prestel. 2004.


“Global Cities and Survival Circuits,” in Global Woman: Nannies, Maids, and Sex Workers in the New Economy, eds. Barabara Ehrenreich and Russell Hochschild. New York: Holt Paperbacks. 2004.


“A Global City,” in Global Chicago, ed. Charles Madigan. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press. 2004.


“The locational and institutional embeddedness of electronic markets: the case of the global capital markets,” in  Markets in Historical Context: Ideas and Politics in the Modern World, eds. Mark Bevir and Frank Trentmann. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. 2004.


“Sited Materials with a Global Span,” in Society Online: The Internet in Context, eds. Philip N. Howard and Steve Jones. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. 2004.


“Towards post-national and denationalized citizenship,” in Handbook of Citizenship Studies, eds. Engin F. Isin and Bryan S. Turner. New York: Sage. 2003. [click for PDF]


“Reading the City in a Global Digital Age: Between Topographic Representation and Spatialized Power Projects,” in Global Cities: Cinema, Architecture, and Urbanism in a Digital Age, eds. Linda Krause and Patrice Petro. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. 2003.


“Strategic Instantiations of Gendering in the Global Economy,” in Gender and U.S. Immigration: Contemporary Trends, ed. Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 2003.


“Global Cities and Diasporic Networks: Microsites in Global Civil Society Global Civil Society 2002. Edited by Helmut Anheier et. al. Oxford University Press. [click for PDF]


“Deconstructing Labor Demand in Today’s Advanced Economies: Implications for Low-Wage Employment,” in Laboring Below the Line: Ethnography of Poverty, Low-Wage Work, and Survival in the Global Economy, ed. Frank Munger. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. 2002.


“Counter-geographies of globalization: Feminisation of survival,” in Feminist Post-Development Thought: Rethinking Modernity, Post-Colonialism and Representation, ed. Kriemild Saunders. London: Zed Books. 2002.


“Globalization and the formation of claims,” in Globalization at the Margins, eds. Richard Grant and John R. Short. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 2002.


“Governance Hotspots: Challenges we must confront in the post-September 11 world,” in Understanding September 11, ed. Craig Calhoun. New York: New Press. 2002.


“Mediating Practices: Women with/in Cyberspace,” in Living with Cyberspace: Technology and Society in the 21st Century, eds. John Armitage and Joanne Roberts. New York: Continuum. 2002.


“A New Cross-Border Field for Public and Private Actors,” in Political Space: Frontiers of Change and Governance in a Globalizing World. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. 2002.


“Cities in the Global Economy,” in Handbook of Urban Studies, ed. Ronan Paddison. New York: Sage. 2001.


"The Demise of Pax Americana and the emergence of informalization as a systematic trend,” in Informalization: Process and Structure, eds. Faruk Tabak and Michaeline A. Crichlow. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. 2000.



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© Saskia Sassen 2010