Space, the City and Social Theory: Social Relations and Urban Forms [1 ed.] 0745628257, 0745628265

Space, the City and Social Theory offers a clear and critical account of key approaches to cities and urban space within

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English Pages vi + 170 [88] Year 2005

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Table of contents :


1. Community and Solitude: Social Relations in the City.

2. Spaces of Difference and Division.

3. The Politics of Space: Social Movements and Public Space.

4. Capital and Culture: Gentrifying the City.

5. Embodied Spaces: Gender, Sexuality and the City.

6. Spatial Stories: Subjectivity in the City.

7. Making Space: Urban Cultures, Spatial Tactics.



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Space, the City and Social Theory Social Relations and Urban Forms For Phillip




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Copyright© Fran Tonkiss 2005


The right of Fran Tonkiss to be identified as Author of this Work has been asserted in accordance with the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. First published in 2005 by Polity Press Polity Press 65 Bridge Street Cambridge CB2 1UR, UK Polity Press 350 Main Street Malden, MA 02148, USA All rights reserved. Except for the quotation of short passages for the purpose of criticism and review, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher. ISBN: 0-7456-2825-7 ISBN: 0-7456-2826-5 (pb) A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. Typeset in 9.5 on 12 pt Utopia by Servis Filmsetting Ltd, Manchester Printed and bound in Great Britain by TJ International, Padstow, Cornwall

Acknowledgements p. vi

''Tri:t,roduction p. l I) Comm�nityaJ:1? S�lit�d�: Social R�laJignsJnthe_City p.8 i Spaces of Difference and Di�t§!Qll_ p.30 -�·�.,•.•...,-.-·-·-····· 3 ) The Politics of Space: Social Movements and Public Space p.59� \ / . ·L( Capital and Culture: Gentrifying the City p.80 _ 5 Embodied Spaces: Gender, Sexuality and the City p.94 �" Sp�!�§tQ!1��:?��j�.c:ti:vityinthe,City. p.113 L�Making Space: Urban Cultures, Spatial Tactics p.131 · Conclusion p.148 �.




Bibliography p.151 Index p.168

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I would like to express my thanks to my friends Caroline Butler-Bowdon, Anne-Marie Fortier, Monica Greco, David Hansen-Miller, Clare Hemmings, Michael Keith, Belinda McClory, Kate Nash, and Steve Pile. Emma Longstaff at Polity has been a very helpful and sympathetic editor. I am especially grate­ ful to my former students at Goldsmiths College, whose enthusiasm and imagination have, more than anything else, helped my thinking about cities. My greatest debt of thanks is to my friend and colleague Les Back, for his generosity, encouragement and support. This book is dedicated to my cousin Phillip Kent (1958-2003), in memory of our times together in different cities. Parts of chapter 1 first appeared in 'The ethics of indifference: community and soli­ tude in the city', International Journal of Cultural Studies6/3 (2003): 297-311. Figures 1 and 3 in chapter 2 are taken from E. W Burgess, 'The growth of the city: an introduction to a research project', in R. E. Park et al., (eds), The City (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967). Figure 2 in chapter 2 is taken from M. Davis, Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster (New York: Metropolitan Books, 1998). Copyright© 1998 by Mike Davis. Reprinted by permission of Henry Holt and Company, LLC. Parts of chapter 4 first appeared in 'Inner City Living', in J. Barrett and C. Butler­ Bowdon (eds), Debating the City (Sydney: Historic Houses Trust, 2001), pp. 3-10. An earlier version of chapter 7 appeared in C. Jenks (ed.), Urban Cultures: Critical Concepts in Literary and Cultural Studies (London and New York: Routledge, 2004). All reproduced with permission. Every effort has been made to contact all the copyright holders, but if any have been inadvertently omitted the publisher will be pleased to make the necessary arrange­ ments at the earliest opportunity.


This book examines the relations between social processes and spatial forms in the modern city. How are key social categories - such as community, class, race, gender or sexuality - constituted and reproduced in urban contexts? How do broader social processes - such as political mobilization or economic change - take shape in the city? Rather than viewing the urban as a fixed space within which various social processes are worked out, the discussion here draws on perspectives in social theory to open up different versions of the city: as a site of social encounter and social division, as a field of politics and power, as a symbolic and material landscape, as an embodied space, as a realm of everyday experience. In these ways, it aims to relate issues in urban studies to wider debates within social theory and analysis. The text does not provide an overview of the development of urban soci­ ology or urban studies as disciplines (for a valuable survey, see Savage et al. 2003; see also Saunders 1995; Smith 1980; Soja 2000). Rather, it examines particular ways in which the city has found its place in the sociological imagination. It does so by starting with two key literatures in urban sociology and social theory. The first contains the founding arguments of a specifically urban sociology, developed by the researchers of the Chicago School in the 1920s and after. The second is based on work in European social theory, particularly that of Georg Simmel and Walter Benjamin, which has greatly influenced conceptual approaches to urban space and urban experience. My aim in returning to these US and European foundations - the former analysing urban spatial and social organization, the latter highlighting move­ ments in urban social theory - is to examine how contemporary issues in urban social life relate to different traditions of thought that have shaped the understanding of the modern city. 1J1ts fI