London: a global city

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Classe(s) : Tle ES - Tle L - Tle S | Thème(s) : The globalized areas
Corpus Corpus 1
London: a global city





> card 28

In 1991, a sociologist, Saskia Sassen, described the phenomenon of global city and identified three of these cities in the world. Why is London one of them?

1 A home of upper functions

A Major stock exchange and TNCs’ headquarters

 The London Stock Exchange has been located in the City of London for three centuries. In 2014, it was the 5th-largest stock exchange in the world.

 The biggest international investment banks, such as Goldman Sachs or J.P. Morgan Chase, are in the City, the main CBD of London. Some TNCs, such as Unilever or Shell, have located their headquarters in London.

keyword CBD or Central Business
District refers to the central district of a city, usually typified by a concentration of office buildings and headquarters.

Canary Wharf is the other main financial centre of London, where business buildings have been built since the 1980s.

B Political and cultural influence

 London is the seat of the Government of the UK. Many government departments are close to the Palace of Westminster, particularly along Whitehall as the centre of British administration.

 London is also a large international and diverse cultural centre, with museums, art galleries, theatres and clubs known all around the world. The British Museum is one of the largest and most visited museums in existence: more than 8,000,000 artifacts and 6,000,000 visitors a year.

2 An international attractiveness

A An international hub

 The city is connected to the rest of the world by plane (five airports, including Heathrow, the 3rd-busiest in the world) and high-speed train (Eurostar).

 Highways link London to the United Kingdom. Since 1986, London has had a new orbital motorway, the M25. Seven new rail routes opened or were planned in London from the 1990s.

B A multicultural city

 The 2011 census showed the new face of London. The vast majority of population growth (+ 1,000,000 in 10 years) has come from international migration. While 45% of Londoners define themselves as White, the largest ethnic minority groups are Indians (12%) and Black Africans (7%).

 These communities have changed the traditional neighbourhoods. Southall, next to Heathrow airport, has become a vibrant Indian suburb, with the largest Asian shopping centre in London.

3 Local concerns

A Violent and social opposition

 The economic structure of London leads to social polarization. Financial services employ extraordinarily high skilled people and create a demand for low-paid service workers. The upper class lives in the West End or in the City.

 The riots in August 2011 in London are the results of the rising social and economic inequalities, notably the lack of opportunity for several ethnic communities.

B Urban sprawl* and green issues

 The Greater London Authority (GLA) includes Inner London and Outer London, the great suburban expanse. The GLA is surrounded by the Greenbelt. Beyond that, the East of England and the Southeast are the exurban* rings.

 In 2011 there were 3.2 million people living in Inner London versus 10 million in Outer London and exurb rings.

 Because of the commuting between Inner and Outer London, the city has some of the highest levels of air pollution in Europe. The poor air quality in the city causes 4,300 deaths per year.

  • urban sprawl = étalement urbain
  • exurb = la grande banlieue