Saturday, June 19, 2010

New globalism, new urbanism: gentrification as global urban strategy

by Smith, Neil
Antipode, Volume 34, Number 3, July 2002 , pp. 427-450(24)

This paper uses several events in New York in the late 1990s to launch two central arguments about the changing relationship between neoliberal urbanism and so-called globalization. First, much as the neoliberal state becomes a consummate agent of—rather than a regulator of—the market, the new revanchist urbanism that replaces liberal urban policy in cities of the advanced capitalist world increasingly expresses the impulses of capitalist production rather than social reproduction. As globalization bespeaks a rescaling of the global, the scale of the urban is recast. The true global cities may be the rapidly growing metropolitan economies of Asia, Latin America, and (to a lesser extent) Africa, as much as the command centers of Europe, North America and Japan. Second, the process of gentrification, which initially emerged as a sporadic, quaint, and local anomaly in the housing markets of some command-center cities, is now thoroughly generalized as an urban strategy that takes over from liberal urban policy. No longer isolated or restricted to Europe, North America, or Oceania, the impulse behind gentrification is now generalized; its incidence is global, and it is densely connected into the circuits of global capital and cultural circulation. What connects these two arguments is the shift from an urban scale defined according to the conditions of social reproduction to one in which the investment of productive capital holds definitive precedence.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Gentrification and Its Discontents

By Benjamin Schwarz
Michael Sorkin, an architect and critic, and Sharon Zukin, an urban sociologist, have each written what they describe as books about contemporary New York City—but that’s putting things far too broadly. Zukin’s Naked City does make forays into the white-hot center of hipness, Brooklyn’s Williamsburg, and to rapidly gentrifying Harlem. But the bulk of her book, and all of Sorkin’s Twenty Minutes in Manhattan, is confined to fine-grained observations of the streets and neighborhoods within roughly 20 blocks of their apartments in Greenwich Village—that is, west to the Village’s Meatpacking District and new Gold Coast along West Street, east to the fringes of Alphabet City, north to Union Square, and south to SoHo and Tribeca. This area today is in every sense rarefied, and for most of its history was in crucial ways set apart from the rest of Manhattan, which to some extent leaped beyond it. Still, the precedent for using the Village to draw lessons and issue prescriptions about New York generally, and indeed urban life writ large, was of course sanctified in 1961 by that doughty urban observer and community activist, Jane Jacobs. She largely formed her conclusions in The Death and Life of Great American Cities—the ur-text for contemporary writing about urban life and the most influential American book ever written about cities—by closely reading the neighborhood life around her house on Hudson Street (about six blocks from Sorkin’s apartment and, by my reckoning, about 10 from Zukin’s; it’s all a bit clubby).
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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The nature and causes of urban sprawl: a case study of Wirral, England

Chris Couch & Jay Karecha
Liverpool John Moores University

This paper is one of a series being written by the authors as a contribution to the URBS PANDENS research project examining ‘urban sprawl in Europe’. The first two parts of the paper were presented at the Ljubljana meeting. Part one examined definitions and theories of urban sprawl whilst part two considered methods of measuring urban sprawl and presented data on urban change and sprawl for England, the Merseyside conurbation and the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral. Part three, which is presented here, explores the causes of urban sprawl and a more recent contrasting phenomenon: re-urbanisation. This exploration is based upon the findings of empirical investigations in Wirral. It should be noted that these are the limits of concern in this paper: the definition, measurement and causes of urban sprawl. There are other important questions about the good or bad effects of urban sprawl; its relationship with other concepts such as sustainable development; and the evaluation of public policies to control or mediate the effects of sprawl. But these matters will be explored in subsequent papers.

Causes of Urban Sprawl (Decentralization) in the United States: Natural Evolution, Flight from Blight, and the Fiscalization of Land Use

Robert W. Wassmer
Department of Public Policy and Administration
Sacramento State University

David Edwards
California Bureau of State Audits

January 10, 2005

Relying upon three theories previously offered by economists to explain differences in the degree of decentralization observed across urban areas; this paper uses regression analysis to examine what causes this form of “urban sprawl” in the United States. Building on Brueckner and Fansler’s (1983) analysis, we find evidence that explanatory factors associated with the “natural evolution” and the “flight-from-blight” theories of causes of urban dispersion do influence differences in the year 2000 square mile size of United States’ urbanized areas. Our regression results also offer support for the presence of one form of “fiscalization of land use”, and for regional variation in United States’ urban decentralization that may be due to differences in land use history and/or institutions. If so desired, the empirical evidence offered here could be used to craft policy prescriptions to alter the course of sprawl in an urban area.

34 pages, PDF

Confronting the Causes of Urban Sprawl


The list of causes of urban sprawl should begin with the market preference for large houses and lots, leading to recent over-building. We should stop right here and say that the recent mortgage, financial, and economic crises may have slowed down this cause considerably, but we're going to keep writing as if that's a real threat. We're a little afraid people will revert to their previous behavior when their immediate crisis is over.
Other causes and contributing factors include ignoring the consequences of unplanned growth of metropolitan areas, smaller cities, and towns.