Saskia Sassen – USA and Netherlands

Linked with Fear and strange arithmetics.

Saskia Sassen (born January 5, 1949 at The Hague, Netherlands) is an American sociologist and economist noted for her analyses of globalization and international human migration. She is currently a professor of sociology at Columbia University and at the London School of Economics. Sassen coined the term global city. She is married to the sociologist Richard Sennett. Sassen grew up in Buenos Aires where her parents Willem Sassen and Miep van der Voort moved in 1950. She also spent a part of her youth in Italy and says she was “brought up in five languages” … (full text).

She says: … “The notion of globalisation does not adequately capture this transformation, which leads on to the question, where, precisely, is this foundational transformation happening? My answer is, to a large extent, within, not outside, the architecture of the nation state. Yes, there are novel global formations, but they are thin compared with the nation state, the most complex structure we have produced historically. I think some parts of today’s transformation are partial, contradictory, incipient – they have uncertain trajectories and may well collapse, even as others thrive” … (full interview text).

Global Networks, inked critics, 19 pages.


Saskia Sassen – USA and Netherlands

Public Interventions … .

… She has recently completed a five-year project on sustainable human settlement for UNESCO. The project established a network of researchers and activists in more than 30 countries and is published in the Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems She serves on several editorial boards and is an advisor to several international bodies. She is a Member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a member of the National Academy of Sciences Panel on Cities, and Chair of the Information Technology and International Cooperation Committee of the Social Science Research Council (USA). Her comments have appeared in The Guardian, The New York Times, Le Monde Diplomatique, The International Herald-Tribune, and The Financial Times, among others … (full text).

More around the themes she is writing about: international trade; and nation states; and rural depopulation; and transnational/transnationalism; and urbanization..

The goal of a negotiated global open migration policy would be to make universal what is already the reality for the affluent everywhere, making what is now a privilege for some a universal right for all (see Saskia Sassen, “Migration policy: from control to governance,” 13 July 2006). This is not a new proposition. It has been the subject of serious discussion in academic and policy circles for years. Indeed, an ambitious extended debate within openDemocracy, focusing on the reform of European migration policy, included contributions from many policy analysts such as Liza Schuster and Franck Düvell, Nigel Harris and Saskia Sassen, arguing for variations on the proposition of open borders. Still, the issue is a hard sell, and in spite of the manifest failure of present policies and practices, serious consideration of the alternative at the political level has not been achieved … (full text).

Work and the Global Economy: Listen to the Entire Program, September 2, 2002.

… Saskia Sassen: I would distinguish two issues. One is that historically, liberalism is deeply grounded in a particular combination of circumstances. Most important is the struggle by merchants and manufacturers to gain liberties vis-à-vis the Crown and the aristocracy, and the use of the market as the institutional setting that both gave force and legitimacy to that claim. Seen this way, why should liberalism not have decayed? What rescued liberalism was Keynesianism, the extension of a socially empowering project to the whole of society. This is the crisis today: Keynesianism has been attacked by new types of actors, including segments of the political elite. What is happening today is on the one hand a decay (objectively speaking) of liberalism even as an ideology – being replaced with neoliberalism, attacks on the welfare state, etc – and, on the other hand, a decay of the structural conditions within which Keynesian liberalism could function. So the struggle today has been renamed: one key term is democratic participation and representation, and those who use this language will rarely invoke liberalism. When we praise liberalism, it is often a situated defense: as against neoliberalism, as against fundamentalisms and despotisms – this is not necessarily invoking historical liberalism, which at its origins was defending the rights of an emerging class of property owners, but the best aspects of a doctrine that had to do with the fight against the despotism of Crown and nobility … (full interview text).

… Beside the blog, recent articles include Rahila Gupta on the trafficking of women and an overview of immigration flows and states around the world by Saskia Sassen … (full text, June 19, 2008).

She says also: … “Financial firms and exchanges have used the new interactive digital technologies far more aggressively and innovatively than most other types of users—finance as a vanguard. To do this, finance has had to push developments of the technologies, but also invent new legal and accounting instruments, and whole new cultures of work. Projects as diverse as democratizing power, redistributing resources and fighting global warming could benefit greatly from changes in some of the particular legal, technical and cultural frames that organize use of those technologies today. There are many possible collaborators at the University. For starters, a computer scientist, a legal scholar and a sociologist: Ian Foster, Cass Sunstein and Karin Knorr Cetina” … (full interview text).

The Transnationalism Project, University of Chicago, and her downloadable PDFs of Sassen’s papers at the University of Chicago’s Transnationalism project website.

And she says: … “The question of the digital is tricky. We have notions about it that keep us from seeing some of what is actually happening. One such notion is, ‘If it’s digital, by God it’s digital, and it’s nothing else.’ Digital technologies deliver the goods through complex ecologies that are partly social. ‘Who is using it, and for what?’ is the important question. Digital interactive worlds are partially embedded in settings that are non-digital. In financial markets, digital interactive technology leads to greater concentrations of capital. In the social sphere it typically enhances equal access. What’s critical is the logic of the user. It’s a bit like the hammer: you can use it to kill, or to build a house” … (full interview text).

Find her and her publications on Eurozine articles; on amazon; on wikipedia; on Google Video-search; on Google Book-search; on Google Scholar-search.


Human rights and social justice;

Local Citizenship and Foreign Workers in Japan;

MasterCard Worldwide Research Highlights Growing Role of Asian and Eastern European Cities in the Global Economy.

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