Social Justice and the City

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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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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A penetrating analysis of contemporary urbanism which may indeed be the signal for a change of direction, if not a revolution, in geographic thought. The time is certainly ripe for this. But it will appeal to and stimulate many other disciplines and professions. It will be controversial for it brings into question concepts and values that are fundamental to our way of life."--Times Higher Education Supplement

"One of the most influential books in human geography, Social Justice and the City is a generative work that has influenced decades of urban studies scholars. Harvey skillfully demonstrates the material forces that produce cities, urban geographies, and the problems that are often associated with them. In so doing, he opened up new territory for understanding some of the fundamental and enduring problems of the city."--Laura Pulido, author of Black, Brown, Yellow, and Left: Radical Activism in Los Angeles

"This book, in fact, provides the dimension that is almost entirely missing from the work of most critics, journalists, or historians who describe and discuss the contemporary city or the development of the modern movement in architecture."--Architects Journal

"A good book, by any standards, and it is to be hoped that even those many of the author's colleagues in geography, economics, and sociology, who may suspect that the dose of theoretical Marxism which we are offered here is too undiluted, may nonetheless ask themselves whether they can, either through some type of revisionism, or by starting elsewhere, offer a better or more comprehensive theory of the city."--Times Literary Supplement

"Establishes David Harvey as one of the most fertile and fruitful scholars working in the field of urban studies at the present time. It also makes quite clear that urban geography and non-Marxist urban economics can never be quite the same again."--Urban Studies

"Social Justice and the City has rightfully been an influential work, particularly among geographers. It is admirable not only in its systematic questioning of the traditional explanations of urban problems, but in insisting on a comprehensive view in explaining social phenomena. It is a refreshing work because of the paradigmatic change that is mapped in the course of the essays."--James L. Greer, Ethics

"A solid and much-needed achievement."--George W. Carey, Geographical Review

"The adage that we become more conservative as we grow older is but one of several comfortable notions that are profoundly shaken in this extraordinary book. . . . Social Justice and the City contains a wealth of convincing and unconvincing, disturbing and reinforcing, but usually provocative ideas."--Richard L. Morrill, Annals of the Association of American Geographers

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Product Details

Meet the Author

David Harvey is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. His many books include A Brief History of Neoliberalism and Spaces of Global Capitalism: Towards a Theory of Uneven Geographical Development.
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Table of Contents

Introduction 9

part one liberal formulations

Chapter one: Social processes and spatial form:
(1) The conceptual problems of urban planning 22

The geographical versus the sociological imagination 23

Towards a philosophy of social space 27

Some methodological problems at the interface 37

1 Individuation 38
2 Confounding 40
3 Statistical inference 41

Strategy at the interface 44

Chapter two: Social processes and spatial form:
(2) The redistribution of real income in an urban system 50

The distribution of income and the social objectives for a city system 52

Some features governing the redistribution of income 55

1 The speed of change and the rate of adjustment in an urban system 55
2 The price of accessibility and the cost of proximity 56
3 Externality effects 57

The redistributive effects of the changing location of jobs and housing 60
Redistribution and the changing value of property rights 64

The availability and price of resources 68

Political processes and the redistribution of real income 73

Social values and the cultural dynamics of the urban system 79

Spatial organization and political, social and economic processes 86

1 The provision and control of impure public goods in an urban system 87
2 Regional and territorial organization in an urban system 91

A concluding comment 94

Chapter three: Social justice and spatial systems 96
“A just distribution” 99

Territorial distributive justice 101

1 Need 101
2 Contribution to common good 105
3 Merit 106

To achieve a distribution justly 108
A just distribution justly achieved: territorial social justice 116

part two socialist formulations Chapter four: Revolutionary and counter-revolutionary theory in geography and the problem of ghetto formation 120

A further comment on revolutionary and counter-revolutionary theories 147

Chapter five: Use value, exchange value and the theory of urban land use 153
The use value and exchange value of land and improvements 157

Urban land-use theory 160

Micro-economic urban land-use theory 162

Rent and the allocation of urban land to uses 176

Use value, exchange value, the concept of rent and theories of urban land use — a conclusion 190

Chapter six: Urbanism and the city — an interpretive essay 195

Modes of production and modes of economic integration 196

Modes of production 197

Modes of economic integration 206

1 Reciprocity 207
2 Redistributive integration 209
3 Market exchange 210
Cities and surplus 216

The surplus concept and urban origins 216

Surplus value and the surplus concept 224
Surplus labour, surplus value and the nature of urbanism 229
Urbanism and the spatial circulation of surplus value 237
Conclusions 238

Modes of economic integration and the space economy of urbanism 240 Variation within a mode of economic integration 241
The circulation of the surplus and the balance of influence between the modes of economic integration in the urban space economy 245
1 Patterns in the geographic circulation of the surplus 246
2 The cities of medieval Europe 250
3 The market exchange process and metropolitan urbanism in the contemporary capitalist world 261
4 Redistribution and reciprocity as
countervailing forces to market exchange
in the contemporary metropolis 274

part three synthesis
Chapter seven: Conclusions and reflections 286
On methods and theories 286
1 Ontology 288
2 Epistemology 296
On the nature of urbanism 302
The right to the city (2008) 315
Bibliography 333
Index of authors 345
Index of subjects 348

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