Urban Politics as Political Ecology

  • Oliver P. Williams


Human ecology is concerned with the study of spatial distributions of social phenomena. Because urban settlements are examples of ecological patterns, urbanism, as an object of inquiry, may be viewed as a subset of human ecology. Ecological explanations of urban patterns, largely formulated by demographers, sociologists, geographers and economists, frequently stress such variables as migration, communality, resource locations and site advantages, but rarely political factors. Instead, politics is often treated as exogenous to the urban process, an element which interferes with its ‘normal’ functioning. While some political scientists have been concerned with space as a variable, their concern has been largely with global geopolitics, using simple territorial conceptions. This chapter will explore the benefits of using political variables as central, rather than peripheral, in the explanation of the urban spatial structure. It will also argue that political analysis in the urban context should be concerned with an interactional, rather than a territorial, notion of space.


Real Income Urban System Urban Renewal Urban Form Urban Settlement 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1975

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  • Oliver P. Williams

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