Globalisation: Friend Or Foe
Dramatic Changes have taken place in Sydneys cultural and economic landscapes during the past two decades. These changing landscapes have been linked in both political discourse and the popular press to Sydneys emerging role as a global city. Evidence supporting this theory has come from some academic analyses of globalisation in the 1990s. Global cities are identified by their role as command centers for organising the global economy. Such cities have been characterised by their openness to global flows of commodities, money, ideas and information. They have become destinations for both national and international migration of skilled information workers, but also magnets for new streams of global labor migration. The Asia-Pacific Rim has been one of the primary sources of these new flows of international migration into Sydney (Fagan, 2000, pg. 144). The aim of this essay is to gauge the impact of the said globalisations on the various landscapes of Sydney, as globalisation has effected different areas of Sydney in different ways. The principle areas discussed in this paper are Leichardt, Chinatown, Cabramatta, Darling Harbour, the CBD and Pyrmont. The impacts of cultural globalisations will be discussed first, followed by those of economic globalisations. Economic globalisation will be divided into 2 parts: primary impacts and subsequent impacts.
Migrant communities are an attribute of many large western cities and particularly of global cities. In the case of Leichardt, however, Italian settlement occurred prior to Sydneys emergence as a Global City. The display of the symbols of Italian settlement in the form of signage, businesses and social organisations is a cultural attribute of Sydneys global city status (Searle, 1996). The maintenance and marketing of this heritage status for urban planners and tourism authorities is a key feature of global cities (Searle, 1996). A primary example of the developers and tourism authorities attempting to capitalise on the heritage value of Leichardt is illustrated in Plate 1. Resident Italian-Australians, and tourists alike, can be seen dining and shopping among the Italian Forum in the foreground and middle distance of the photograph.
The situation of Chinatown is similar to that of Leichardt in terms of its heritage value. Chinatown, like Leichardt, was established prior to Sydneys global city status. Its heritage is a magnet for Chinese-Australians and tourists alike as seen the central foreground of Plate 2. The Pallou Plaza is lined with specialty Chinese shops, conference centers/social clubs.
Cabramatta is one of the direct results of Sydneys global city status. Cabramatta is comprised of migrants predominantly from Southeast Asia seeking the economic opportunities that are available in global cities such as Sydney. In Plate 3 the predominately Asian human landscape of Cabramatta can be seen quite well. Many of the economic activities of Cabramatta rely on the global flows of migrants. Immigrant consultants and travel agents are perhaps the best example of these activities.
The proliferation of American fast food restaurants in global cities is evidence of both cultural and economic globalisation. The fact that an increasing number of Australians are eating at American fast food chains is exemplary of cultural globalisation, while the business side of the transnational chains is evidence of economic globalisation. Plate 4 provides a strong example of the dominance of American chain restaurants in Sydney. Along the central horizontal axis of the photograph 5 different American food chains can be seen: (from right to left) Hungry Jacks, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, McDonalds, and Planet Hollywood.
Economic globalisation has perhaps made the most visible impacts on Sydney. One cannot ignore the presence of MNCs in the Sydney Skyline. In the center, middle distance of Plate 5 (from left to right) IBM, Nestle, Samsung and Martins Sydney headquarters can be seen overlooking the city. In the more immediate center, middle distance, McDonalds and Sega World (of Darling Harbour) contribute transnational presence on the Sydney landscape.
The presence of multinational corporations has triggered a number of multiplier effects in Sydney. Large-scale convention centers, entertainment centers, luxury residences for transnational business class executives and new transportation networks all among the new developments that have been constructed as a result of the presence of multinational corporations. The Sydney Convention Centre (Plate 6) of Darling Harbour was planned by the New South Wales Government to be a world class venue and thus draw world class events (www.dha.nsw.gov.au). Such a venue would only be constructed in a city of global status.
The planning and urban restructuring of the City West Urban Strategy that is taking place in Pyrmont has an overwhelmingly global context. The recent and projected changes are consistent with the patterns other global cities have adopted in urban waterfront areas where former port and industrial functions have declined (Sant and Jackson, 1991, pg. 136). Pyrmont has historically been associated with port/waterfront industries such as sugar refining and wool processing/storage. Since these port functions relocated to Botany Bay in the 1970s, Pyrmont has been in a state of decline. The redevelopment of Darling Harbour and resultant tourism has provided an opportunity for renewal in Pyrmont (Sant and Jackson, 1991, pg.137). The Watermark Luxury Apartments (Plates 7 and 8) just one of the many new residential developments that have taken place Pyrmont. Plate 9 illustrates the older working class residences that were a construct of the previously industrial Pyrmont.
Plate 10 of Foxtel Studios provides an example of how the old warehousing/port facilities are being redeveloped for new uses. Also notice how the old docks have been transformed into marina berths in the center middle distance in of the photograph. Plate 11 is of another warehouse in Pyrmont being redeveloped. Star City (Plate 12) is one of the anchor developments in Pyrmont. It is meant to be a world class entertainment destination. The sign in the right foreground of Plate 12 illustrates the multiple entertainment options available at Star City: gambling at the Casino, shopping in the Harbour Walk Shops, drama at the Lyric Theatre, and clubbing at The Cave nightclub. The magnitude and scale of the City West Urban Strategy has brought about a new transportation network. The privately owned and operated Metro LightRail system (Plate 13) runs from Pyrmont to Central Station, stopping at Darling Harbour and Chinatown on the way.
Sydneys emergence as a global city has had numerous and diverse effects on the various landscapes of the city. Cultural and economic globalisations have effected Sydney in different ways.