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Dutch-American sociologist wins Spanish social sciences prize

SPAIN PRIZE | 15 de mayo de 2013

Dutch-American sociologist Saskia Sassen is shown in this file photo. Sassen, known for coining the term "global city," was named here Wednesday at this year's recipient of Spain's Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences. EFE/File

Oviedo, Spain, May 15 (EFE).- Dutch-American sociologist Saskia Sassen, known for coining the term "global city," was named here Wednesday at this year's recipient of Spain's Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences.

An internationally renowned expert in urban sociology and globalization, Sassen was one of two finalists for the prize along with American economist Paul Romer and became just the third woman to receive this honor after former Irish President Mary Robinson and American philosopher Martha Nussbaum.

"It is a great honor to receive the Prince of Asturias Award and be a part of the community of those who have received this accolade. And now it is my turn to honor the great institution that grants it," Sassen said in a statement.

According to the jury, one of Sassen's greatest scientific contributions has been her concept of the "global city," noting that it is now "accepted and employed in all the social sciences."

"I'd say the concept (of the global city) is more famous than I am; if I'd had a copyright or intellectual property rights like the pharmaceutical companies, I'd have made a lot of money," she joked in a Spanish-language interview with Efe.

"For Sassen, global cities form networks that concentrate decision-making and new relationships between territory, authority and rights, thereby diminishing the role of borders," the minutes of the jury read.

"They also generate major inequalities and social segregation due, among other reasons, to differences in access to information technology," it added.

A 64-year-old academic and author from The Hague, Sassen is a professor of sociology at Columbia University and co-chair of The Committee on Global Thought at that New York City-based institution.

In works such as "The Global City," first published in 1991; and the 2006 book "Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages," she analyzed problems such as the impoverishment of the middle classes and their difficulty in accessing telecommunications, which results in social inequality and social segregation.

Previous winners of the Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences include English broadcaster and naturalist David Attenborough and American economist Paul Krugman.

The Social Sciences prize was the second Prince of Asturias Award to be conferred this year.

Last week, Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke was named the 2013 recipient of the Arts award, while the winners in the six other categories - Communication and Humanities, Literature, Sports, Technical and Scientific Research, International Cooperation and Concord - will be announced throughout the year.

Along with a cash prize of 50,000 euros (about $64,300) and a sculpture by Joan Miro that symbolizes the awards, each recipient gets a diploma and an insignia bearing the Prince of Asturias Foundation's coat of arms.

The prizes, which Spain's Crown Prince Felipe will hand out at a ceremony in the fall in Oviedo, are regarded as the Ibero-American world's equivalent of the Nobels.

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