Just when we need it most, urban theory seems to be failing us. This book explains why we need it.
Harding and Blokland address the vaunted “crisis” in urban theory with a thoughtful assessment of extant theories in terms of performance, commensurability, and critical engagement. In a conversational and lively tone, they view theories of inequality, public space, identity, power, agency, and culture through the lens of “relaxed urban theory.” Excellent overview for scholars and engaging classroom material.
(Susan E. Clarke)
Inspired by Peter Saunders’s non-spatial urban thinking, Harding and Blokland’s book provides a provocative, wide-ranging and comprehensive treatment of concepts geared to understand cities, and is a compulsory addition to any urban student’s intellectual arsenal in a period of renewed interest in urban theory. (Roger Keil)
Urban theory is said to be in a mess. Proceeding with great analytical clarity, this book introduces a relaxed definition of urban theory that enables the reader to make sense of the non-linear, variegated world of urban theory as it has developed over time and through the application of different disciplines, methods and epistemologies. In reviewing all the major conceptualisations of urban theory, Harding and Blokland provide clear insights into recent developments and the controversies and critiques they have provoked. The book is a pedagogical tour de force for students and scholars alike. (Patrick Le Galès)
What is Urban Theory? How can it be used to understand our urban experiences? Experiences typically defined by enormous inequalities, not just between cities but within cities, in an increasingly interconnected and globalised world. This book explains:
- Relations between urban theory and modernity - the foundational concept in urban studies – in key ideas of the Chicago School, in spatial analysis, humanistic urban geography, and ‘radical' approaches like Marxism
- Cities and the transition from industrial to informational economies, globalization, the importance of urban growth machine and urban regime theory, the city as an “actor”
- Spatial expressions of inequality - understood horizontally and vertically - and key ideas like segregation, ghettoization, suburbanization, gentrification, and “neighbourhood effects”
- Socio-cultural spatial expressions of difference and key concepts like gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, age, public space; “culturalist” perspectives on identity, lifestyle, subculture
- How cities should be understood as intersections of horizontal and vertical – of coinciding resources, positions, locations; of different constellations of race, class, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, and age, influencing how we make and understand urban experiences.
Critical, interdisciplinary and pedagogically informed - with opening summaries, boxes, questions for discussion and guided further reading - Urban Theory: A Critical Introduction to Power, Cities and Urbanism in the 21st Century
provides the tools for any student of the city to understand, even to change, our own urban experiences.
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