Justice and the American Metropolis
Publication Year: 2011
Today’s American cities and suburbs are the sites of “thick injustice”—unjust power relations that are deeply and densely concentrated as well as opaque and seemingly intractable. Thick injustice is hard to see, to assign responsibility for, and to change.
Identifying these often invisible and intransigent problems, this volume addresses foundational questions about what justice requires in the contemporary metropolis. Essays focus on inequality within and among cities and suburbs; articulate principles for planning, redevelopment, and urban political leadership; and analyze the connection between metropolitan justice and institutional design. In a world that is progressively more urbanized, and yet no clearer on issues of fairness and equality, this book points the way to a metropolis in which social justice figures prominently in any definition of success.
Contributors: Susan S. Fainstein, Harvard U; Richard Thompson Ford, Stanford U; Gerald Frug, Harvard U; Loren King, Wilfrid Laurier U; Margaret Kohn, U of Toronto; Stephen Macedo, Princeton U; Douglas W. Rae, Yale U; Clarence N. Stone, George Washington U; Margaret Weir, U of California, Berkeley; Thad Williamson, U of Richmond.
Published by: University of Minnesota Press
Series: Globalization and Community
This book was born over lunch at Miss Saigon, a Vietnamese restaurant in “The Loop,” a cultural district in a streetcar suburb of St. Louis, Missouri. Even though we taught at different institutions (Clarissa at Washington University and Todd at the University of Missouri– St. Louis) and were trained in different specialties (normative political theory and empirical urban politics), we found that we shared many interests and points of ...
Introduction: Thick Injustice
A modest two- story br i ck home sits at 4600 Labadie Avenue in the heart of St. Louis’s North Side. Nothing sets this house apart from its neighbors but a small metal plaque, which commemorates its role in the landmark Supreme Court decision Shelley v. Kraemer (334 U.S. 1 ). In October 1945, J. D. and Ethel Shelley, an African- American couple, ...
I. The Roots of Injustice in the American Metropolis
1. Property-Owning Plutocracy: Inequality and American Localism
The American dream is a dream of liberty and opportunity. It promises reward and advancement to those who pursue it. The dream is pursued by families: parents seek it for themselves and their children. It involves owning a home and sending one’s children to a good school. These ideals organize our lives and inform our institutions. Public policy ...
2. Public Reason and the Just City
In this chapter I consider some problems of urban inequality in light of a particular dimension of justice: the importance of good reasons for imposing burdens on others. This will require saying something about what counts as a good reason, what sorts of burdens demand such reasons, and what counts as imposing a burden on others (as distinct ...
3. Public Space in the Progressive Era
The first enduring discussion of justice, Plato’s Republic, is also one of the few works that explores the connection between justice and the city (Plato 1992). The Republic does not lend itself to any simple interpretation, but one of the most prominent arguments is Socrates’s claim that the just city is organized hierarchically, with each class performing ...
II. Rethinking Metropolitan Inequality
4. Two Cheers for Very Unequal Incomes: Toward Social Justice in Central Cities
Upon the release of a recent United Nations (U.N.) study, the Times of India proffered, “In what could be thoroughly embarrassing for the U.S., its cities have been found to have levels of inequality as high as those of African and Latin American cities . . . Major U.S. cities, like Atlanta, New Orleans, Washington D.C., Miami, and New York have ...
5. Beyond the Equality–Efficiency Tradeoff
For his 1974 Godkin Lecture, economist Arthur Okun chose as his topic “Equality and Efficiency: The Big Tradeoff” (1975). Okun put his thesis this way: “We can’t have our cake of market efficiency and share it equally” (1975, 2). His lecture was a harbinger of a profound shift in public policy. California’s Proposition 13, a keystone in the tax revolt ...
III. Planning for Justice
6. Redevelopment Planning and Distributive Justice in the American Metropolis
Redevelopment policy, intended to transform the built environment on land already containing structures, constitutes the principal place- targeted approach to bettering urban areas within the United States. Major programs for redevelopment have occurred under both national and local guidance and have involved a variety of strategies. The purpose of ...
7. Justice, the Public Sector, and Cities: Relegitimating the Activist State
The assault on egalitarian social justice in the United States over the past forty years has also been an assault on the legitimacy of vigorous public action to forward substantive goals. This is no coincidence: egalitarian conceptions of social justice invariably assume that the state will be the principal mechanism for establishing just social ...
IV. Justice and Institutions
8. Voting and Justice
Elected city officials make decisions that affect the lives of both city residents and outsiders. Local public schools have an impact on the communities in which graduates live wherever they are. City zoning policies influence not only the nature of city life but also that of neighboring communities. City police do not simply arrest local ...
9. The Color of Territory: How Law and Borders Keep America Segregated
Here's a description of one American city— worse than many, but still representative: Locals call the street the “Berlin Wall,” or the “barrier,” or the “Mason- Dixon Line.” It divides the suburban Grosse Pointe communities, which are among the most genteel towns anywhere, from the East Side of Detroit, which is poor and ...
10. Creating Justice for the Poor in the New Metropolis
Poverty, in the public imagination and the academic literature alike, has long fixated on the system of “urban containment” that trapped the minority poor in low- income urban neighborhoods.1 The face of poverty that became anchored in the American public mind was African- American, urban, and nonworking. The most voluble public ...