The Political-Economic Gradient and the Organization of Urban Space

  • Robert P. FairbanksII
Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)


Community has once again become de rigueur in the contemporary moment. Its return to prominence coincides with efforts to transform urban governance through a familiar—yet reinvigorated—celebration of venerable social welfare traditions that have long extolled the virtues of local responsibility. American cities are enduring the transformations of a “postwelfare apotheosis,” driven by (re)cultivated affinities for devolution, welfare state retrenchment, and privatization (Katz, 2001). As historian Michael Katz argues, these trends have culminated in the trifold victory of three great forces in social welfare politics: the war on dependence, the devolution of public authority, and the dominance of market models in public policy. The fallout leads states to increasingly displace misery to already distressed cities; while cities, in turn, are left to displace misery to the streets of poor neighborhoods. In this climate, the rhetoric of community voluntarism is pervasive, locatable in the discourse of entities ranging from nonprofits, to civic associations, to multilevel corporations (Sites, Chaskin, and Parks, 2003).


Civil Society Urban Space Community Capacity Poor Neighborhood Chicago School 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert P. FairbanksII
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ChicagoUSA

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