In the article, The Global City and the Global Slum, Sassen looks at slums in big global cities. According to Sassen, the global slums that emerge in global cities offer refuge to the poor rural dwellers that come to seek a living in these large cities but cannot afford expensive residentials. Further, Sassen notes that these slums have positioned themselves at the epicenter of politics by banking on the interest they attract from the media, politicians, and other interest groups. Awareness of their position and the arising opportunities place the slum dwellers on the global picture. Opportunities to impact society and change lives exist in these slums. A similar position is seen in the film, “wasteland” where the inhabitants of an area full of garbage identify the garbage as an opportunity to earn a comfortable living. They end up living by collected garbage. It is a typical case of identify opportunities where things look grave and making the best of the opportunities. The perceptions furthered by Sassen highlight the economic and political issues affecting slums. The slums are still a tangible reality. More or less known, invisible, or instrumentalized, they have in common to be fed by the same policies that are supposed to reduce them.
While there is unanimity of persistence – or even growth – in the number of slum dwellers in the world, opinions differ on the causes, and the role played by public policies. While international organizations are surprised at the supposed inefficiency or bankruptcy of slum clearance policies, the idea that in global cities, it is precisely these policies that contribute to producing situations of urban illegality and vulnerability is advancing. Global slums have always been refuges for an uprooted population – internal or transnational migrants – but they are neither the “natural” place of life of any social group, nor the space reserved for migrants, nor the area nomads. They are a form of self-built and self-managed housing that meets the need to survive under a roof when the real estate market is crowded out, and public policies are struggling to accommodate all citizens. These shelters sometimes consolidate in the expectation of better situations; at other times, they are regularly destroyed by authorities who consider them a risk to public order. Other times, the authorities set up alternative projects to relocate some of the inhabitants.
Saskia Sassen. “The Global City and The Global Slum.” Forbes, 9 Aug., 2011, www.forbes.com/sites/megacities/2011/03/22/the-global-city-and-the-global-slum/. Accessed 9 Dec. 2019.