Research Article

DOI :10.26650/JECS2021-881837   IUP :10.26650/JECS2021-881837    Full Text (PDF)

Istanbul: A Global, but Still Industrial, City

Özgür Sayın

Global cities are typically perceived as the outcomes of a series of structural transformations experienced by the advanced capitalist countries in North America and Western Europe in the 1970s. A radical decrease in the share of industrial production vis-à-vis an increase in advanced producer services in the sectorial composition of global cities is one of the indicators of such restructuring. However, beyond the North Atlantic Axis—and especially with regard to new global cities the validity of this assumption is questionable. Consequently, this paper involves a case study of Istanbul on the subject. This paper considers economic production and employment levels as well as spatial indicators to explore the changes in the sectorial dynamics of Istanbul's economy following the 2000s. Furthermore, it evaluates whether post-industrial transformation has taken place in the city. The first empirical section of the paper argues that such post-industrial transformation has not taken place in Istanbul; it posits that rather, globalization has spurred some changes in the manufacturing industry in terms of the scale of production and spatial distribution within the city. It further discusses the local and global dynamics contributing to the survival of industries in the city.

DOI :10.26650/JECS2021-881837   IUP :10.26650/JECS2021-881837    Full Text (PDF)

İstanbul: Sanayisizleşmeyen Bir Küresel Kent

Özgür Sayın

Küresel ekonominin ulus-devletlerin bölgesel sınırlarını aşarak derinleşmesi, küresel kentler olarak adlandırılan bazı büyük şehirlerin bu sistemin organizasyonunda önemli işlevler üstelenerek giderek daha fazla önem kazanmasına neden olmaktadır. Bu kentlerin küresel ve bölgesel işlevleri, ulus-ötesi bağlantıları ve geçirdikleri ekonomik, politik ve sosyal dönüşümler üzerine inşa edilmiş geniş bir literatür bulunmaktadır. Bu literatürdeki temel yaklaşımlardan bir tanesi küresel şehirlerin üretim yapılarının sanayiden ileri hizmetler sektörüne doğru keskin bir geçiş gösterdiğidir. Zaman içinde hem küresel kentler olarak tanımlanan şehirlerin sayısındaki artışa hem de sanayisizleşme çalışmalarında önemli gelişimler gerçekleşmiştir. Bu gelişmelere rağmen küresel kentlerin sanayisizleşmiş şehirler olduğu tezinin yeteri kadar ampirik sorgulamaya tabi tutulmadığı gözlemlenmektedir. Bu noktadan hareketle, bu çalışma küresel kentlerin aynı zamanda post-endüstriyel bir karakter taşıdığı tezini İstanbul örneği üzerinde sorgulamaktadır. Bu amaçla, makale İstanbul’un bir küresel kent olarak ortaya çıktığı 2000’li yıllardan itibaren şehrin ekonomik yapısındaki değişimleri ekonomik üretimin, istihdamın ve mekânsal göstergeler yoluyla inceleyerek şehirde bir sanayisizleşme sürecinin yaşanıp yaşanmadığını incelemektedir. Bulgular, literatürde varsayılanın aksine, şehirde bu tarz bir dönüşüm yaşanmadığını, ancak küreselleşmenin sanayi üretiminin niteliğinde ve kent içindeki yerleşiminde birtakım değişikliklere yol açtığını göstermektedir. Bulgular ayrıca sanayisizleşmenin temelde bir kısım yerel ve ulusal faktörlerden kaynaklandığını, küreselleşmenin de bu sanayinin kentte kalmasına katkı sağladığını göstermektedir.


Since the last quarter of the twentieth century, the profound impacts of economic globalization have initiated significant transitions in the traditional organizational framework that used to prevail in the global capitalist economic system and in which nation-states were the primary actors. Although nation-states' capabilities have diminished gradually, some major cities, called global cities, have emerged as new strategic regions in which various cross-border flows are concentrated. From the economic perspective, these global cities may be identified based on a set of unique functions that they serve in the spatial organization of global capitalism (e.g., coordination units for transnational companies in terms of their global activities, primary locations of advanced producer service firms, and basing points for global capital accumulation). For researchers studying global cities, this reorganization has appeared parallel to a restructuring in the sectorial composition of global cities. This restructuring takes the form of a sharp shift from the prevalence of industrial service sectors to that of advanced ones. However, outside the core realm of the research, the perception of global cities as post-industrial spaces is questionable in general as various local, national, and global dynamics play active roles—simultaneously but in different scales—in the establishment of global cities. This paper further interrogates the post-industrial transformation thesis on Istanbul, one of the leading recently globalized cities. The potential contribution of such an examination is threefold. This study proposes the thesis that Istanbul is not a deindustrialized global city. Such an approach can provide empirical evidence for future studies considering Istanbul within the globalization–city relationship framework. In the broader context, this study offers a new approach to testing the fundamental assumptions on global cities; thus, it enables researchers to stretch the theoretical limits to studying the establishment of global cities. Finally, establishing a common basis for deindustrialization studies and global urban research may help expand the empirical grounds for both these types of literature. There are three aspects in which Istanbul may be considered an interesting and fruitful case study subject in the context of the study of global cities. First, the rise of Istanbul as a global city has emerged primarily in the span of the last 20 years; thus, it is a contemporary as well as ongoing process. Second, Istanbul has emerged as one of the most developed cities among the several recently globalized ones. Thirdly, although Istanbul is one of the world's prominent global cities today, it contradicts some assumptions of how global cities are typically established and comprises a more hybrid and partly exceptional urbanization pattern. The core argument of this paper is that a similar differentiation can also be observed in the sectorial composition of the Istanbul economy. In other words, although Istanbul is considered a global city, it has not yet experienced a deindustrialization process; on the contrary, the manufacturing industry has still maintained its importance in the sectoral distribution of the economy.. The transformation experienced in Istanbul can be interpreted in two ways. First, it may be perceived as a spatial change occurring mainly in the form of the concentration of manufacturing firms on the periphery of the city, which is a stark contrast to the agglomeration of service sectors in the central areas. Second, it is a qualitative shift in the industrial production scale from large corporations toward small- and medium-sized enterprises, most of which are export-oriented and subcontracted. The fact that Istanbul has not transformed into a post-industrial city—at least so far—may be attributed to various reasons that are beyond the purview of this study. However, in all circumstances, one of the most important factors to consider in this context is Istanbul’s position as the nation’s core at various levels, including the economic and social levels. Istanbul’s central position makes it necessary for all major companies in the country to be situated in Istanbul, regardless of their origins or the sectors in which they operate. Besides, it is also evident that administrative strategies that can facilitate the removal of industrial areas towards other cities have not yet been realized despite targets set in this direction. Another aspect to consider is that the city's labor structure is not capable of causing this transformation, neither through its internal dynamics nor with its external migration. Finally, because foreign investments in the city are relatively compatible with the current local and national dynamics, they do not cause a serious structural change in the city's current economic system. 

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Sayın, Ö. (2022). Istanbul: A Global, but Still Industrial, City. Journal of Economy Culture and Society, 0(65), 329-349.


Sayın Ö. Istanbul: A Global, but Still Industrial, City. Journal of Economy Culture and Society. 2022;0(65):329-349.


Sayın, Ö. Istanbul: A Global, but Still Industrial, City. Journal of Economy Culture and Society, [Publisher Location], v. 0, n. 65, p. 329-349, 2022.

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Sayın, Özgür,. 2022. “Istanbul: A Global, but Still Industrial, City.” Journal of Economy Culture and Society 0, no. 65: 329-349.

Chicago: Humanities Style

Sayın, Özgür,. Istanbul: A Global, but Still Industrial, City.” Journal of Economy Culture and Society 0, no. 65 (Jul. 2024): 329-349.

Harvard: Australian Style

Sayın, Ö 2022, 'Istanbul: A Global, but Still Industrial, City', Journal of Economy Culture and Society, vol. 0, no. 65, pp. 329-349, viewed 20 Jul. 2024,

Harvard: Author-Date Style

Sayın, Ö. (2022) ‘Istanbul: A Global, but Still Industrial, City’, Journal of Economy Culture and Society, 0(65), pp. 329-349. (20 Jul. 2024).


Sayın, Özgür,. Istanbul: A Global, but Still Industrial, City.” Journal of Economy Culture and Society, vol. 0, no. 65, 2022, pp. 329-349. [Database Container],


Sayın Ö. Istanbul: A Global, but Still Industrial, City. Journal of Economy Culture and Society [Internet]. 20 Jul. 2024 [cited 20 Jul. 2024];0(65):329-349. Available from: doi: 10.26650/JECS2021-881837


Sayın, Özgür. Istanbul: A Global, but Still Industrial, City”. Journal of Economy Culture and Society 0/65 (Jul. 2024): 329-349.


Published Online24.01.2022


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