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Social Justice and the City

David Harvey

Publication Year: 2009

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.

Published by: University of Georgia Press

Series: Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 1-4


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pp. 5-8

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pp. 9-19

The biographical details of how this book came to be written are relevant to reading it since they serve to explain features in its construction that might otherwise appear peculiar. After completing a study of methodological problems in geography, which was published under the title Explanation in Geography...


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

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pp. 22-49

The city is manifestly a complicated thing. Part of the difficulty we experience in dealing with it can be attributed to this inherent complexity. But our problems can also be attributed to our failure to conceptualize the situation correctly. If our concepts are inadequate or inconsistent, we cannot hope to identify problems and formulate appropriate policy solutions. ...

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

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pp. 50-95

Any overall strategy for dealing with urban systems must contain and reconcile policies designed to change the spatial form of the city (by which is meant the location of objects such as houses, plant, transport links, and the like) with policies concerned to affect the social processes which go on in the city...

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Chapter three: Social justice and spatial systems

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pp. 96-118

Normative thinking has an important role to play in geographical analysis. Social justice is a normative concept and it is surprising, therefore, to find that considerations of social justice have not been incorporated into geographical methods of analysis. The reason is not far to seek. ...


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Chapter four: Revolutionary and counter-revolutionary theory in geography and the problem of ghetto formation

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pp. 120-152

How and why would we bring about a revolution in geographic thought? In order to gain some insight into this question, it is worth examining how revolutions and counter-revolutions occur in all branches of scientific thought. Kuhn (1962) provides an interesting analysis of this phenomenon as it occurs in the natural sciences. ...

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Chapter five: Use value, exchange value and the theory of urban land use

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pp. 153-194

"The word VALUE, it is to be observed, has two different meanings, and sometimes expresses the utility of some particular object, and sometimes the power of purchasing other goods which the possession of that object conveys. The one may be called 'value in use', the other, 'value in exchange'. ...

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Chapter six: Urbanism and the city—an interpretive essay

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pp. 195-284

Robert Park once wrote: "Cities, and particularly the great metropolitan cities of modern times . . . are, with all their complexities and artificialities, man's most imposing creation, the most prodigious of human artifacts. We must conceive of our cities therefore...


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Chapter seven: Conclusions and reflections

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pp. 286-314

The previous six chapters of this volume are characterized by analysis. It remains to take a final step into synthesis—to try to distill some conclusions. This is not too awesome a task if we are prepared to undertake a reconstitution of method, a reformulation of the sense in which we may validly speak of a "theory" of urbanism...

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The right to the city (2008)

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pp. 315-332

We live in an era when ideals of human rights have moved center stage both politically and ethically. A great deal of energy is expended in promoting their significance for the construction of a better world. But for the most part the concepts circulating do not fundamentally challenge hegemonic liberal and neoliberal market...


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pp. 333-343

Index of authors

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pp. 345-347

Index of subjects

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pp. 348-354

E-ISBN-13: 9780820336046
E-ISBN-10: 0820336041
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820334035
Print-ISBN-10: 0820334030

Page Count: 368
Publication Year: 2009

Edition: Revised
Series Title: Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation