Social Justice and the City

Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation Series

Book 1
University of Georgia Press
2
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Throughout his distinguished and influential career, David Harvey has defined and redefined the relationship between politics, capitalism, and the social aspects of geographical theory. Laying out Harvey's position that geography could not remain objective in the face of urban poverty and associated ills, Social Justice and the City is perhaps the most widely cited work in the field.

Harvey analyzes core issues in city planning and policy--employment and housing location, zoning, transport costs, concentrations of poverty--asking in each case about the relationship between social justice and space. How, for example, do built-in assumptions about planning reinforce existing distributions of income? Rather than leading him to liberal, technocratic solutions, Harvey's line of inquiry pushes him in the direction of a "revolutionary geography," one that transcends the structural limitations of existing approaches to space. Harvey's emphasis on rigorous thought and theoretical innovation gives the volume an enduring appeal. This is a book that raises big questions, and for that reason geographers and other social scientists regularly return to it.

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"What I am seeking here is a better understanding of the contradictions of capital, not of capitalism. I want to know how the economic engine of capitalism works the way it does, and why it might stutter and stall and sometimes appear to be on the verge of collapse. I also want to show why this economic engine should be replaced, and with what." --from the Introduction To modern Western society, capitalism is the air we breathe, and most people rarely think to question it, for good or for ill. But knowing what makes capitalism work--and what makes it fail--is crucial to understanding its long-term health, and the vast implications for the global economy that go along with it. In Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism, the eminent scholar David Harvey, author of A Brief History of Neoliberalism, examines the internal contradictions within the flow of capital that have precipitated recent crises. He contends that while the contradictions have made capitalism flexible and resilient, they also contain the seeds of systemic catastrophe. Many of the contradictions are manageable, but some are fatal: the stress on endless compound growth, the necessity to exploit nature to its limits, and tendency toward universal alienation. Capitalism has always managed to extend the outer limits through "spatial fixes," expanding the geography of the system to cover nations and people formerly outside of its range. Whether it can continue to expand is an open question, but Harvey thinks it unlikely in the medium term future: the limits cannot extend much further, and the recent financial crisis is a harbinger of this. David Harvey has long been recognized as one of the world's most acute critical analysts of the global capitalist system and the injustices that flow from it. In this book, he returns to the foundations of all of his work, dissecting and interrogating the fundamental illogic of our economic system, as well as giving us a look at how human societies are likely to evolve in a post-capitalist world.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Georgia Press
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Published on
Apr 15, 2010
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Pages
356
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ISBN
9780820336046
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / Public Policy / City Planning & Urban Development
Social Science / Human Geography
Social Science / Sociology / Urban
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This content is DRM protected.
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The worldwide financial crisis has sent shock-waves of accelerated economic restructuring, regulatory reorganization and sociopolitical conflict through cities around the world. It has also given new impetus to the struggles of urban social movements emphasizing the injustice, destructiveness and unsustainability of capitalist forms of urbanization. This book contributes analyses intended to be useful for efforts to roll back contemporary profit-based forms of urbanization, and to promote alternative, radically democratic and sustainable forms of urbanism.

The contributors provide cutting-edge analyses of contemporary urban restructuring, including the issues of neoliberalization, gentrification, colonization, "creative" cities, architecture and political power, sub-prime mortgage foreclosures and the ongoing struggles of "right to the city" movements. At the same time, the book explores the diverse interpretive frameworks – critical and otherwise – that are currently being used in academic discourse, in political struggles, and in everyday life to decipher contemporary urban transformations and contestations. The slogan, "cities for people, not for profit," sets into stark relief what the contributors view as a central political question involved in efforts, at once theoretical and practical, to address the global urban crises of our time.

Drawing upon European and North American scholarship in sociology, politics, geography, urban planning and urban design, the book provides useful insights and perspectives for citizens, activists and intellectuals interested in exploring alternatives to contemporary forms of capitalist urbanization.

The culmination of a critical study of neo-pragmatism philosophy and its application to planning, Dialogical Planning in a Fragmented Society begins with philosopher Stanley M. Stein's examination of neo-pragmatism and his thoughts on how it can be useful in the field of environmental design—specifically, how it can be applied to planning procedures and problems.

Neo-pragmatism is an approach that has been, in the past, best expressed or implied in the writing of Hilary Putnam, Richard Rorty, and, in particular, Donald Davidson, John Rawls, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. Thomas L. Harper furthers this tradition by providing the context for this theoretical application from his academic background in economics and management as well as his practical experience with political decision-making processes, community planning, and economic development.

The result is a fresh synthesis of ideas—a new approach to thinking about planning theory and its implications for, and relationship with, practice. Philosopher Michael Walzer has asserted that "philosophy reflects and articulates the political culture of its time, and politics presents and enacts the arguments of philosophy." Similarly, the authors view planning theory as planning reflected upon in tranquility, away from the tumult of battle, and planning practice as planning theory acted out in the confusion of the trenches. Each changes the other in a dynamic way, and the authors demonstrate the intimate and inextricable link between them.

For much of the twentieth century improvement in the situation of disadvantaged communities was a focus for urban planning and policy. Yet over the past three decades the ideological triumph of neoliberalism has caused the allocation of spatial, political, economic, and financial resources to favor economic growth at the expense of wider social benefits. Susan Fainstein's concept of the "just city" encourages planners and policymakers to embrace a different approach to urban development. Her objective is to combine progressive city planners' earlier focus on equity and material well-being with considerations of diversity and participation so as to foster a better quality of urban life within the context of a global capitalist political economy.

Fainstein applies theoretical concepts about justice developed by contemporary philosophers to the concrete problems faced by urban planners and policymakers and argues that, despite structural obstacles, meaningful reform can be achieved at the local level. In the first half of The Just City, Fainstein draws on the work of John Rawls, Martha Nussbaum, Iris Marion Young, Nancy Fraser, and others to develop an approach to justice relevant to twenty-first-century cities, one that incorporates three central concepts: diversity, democracy, and equity. In the book's second half, Fainstein tests her ideas through case studies of New York, London, and Amsterdam by evaluating their postwar programs for housing and development in relation to the three norms. She concludes by identifying a set of specific criteria for urban planners and policymakers to consider when developing programs to assure greater justice in both the process of their formulation and their effects.

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