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The Right to the City: Social Justice and the Fight for Public Space

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Includes a 2014 Postscript addressing Occupy Wall Street and other developments. Efforts to secure the American city have life-or-death implications, yet demands for heightened surveillance and security throw into sharp relief timeless questions about the nature of public space, how it is to be used, and under what conditions. Blending historical and geographical analysis, Includes a 2014 Postscript addressing Occupy Wall Street and other developments. Efforts to secure the American city have life-or-death implications, yet demands for heightened surveillance and security throw into sharp relief timeless questions about the nature of public space, how it is to be used, and under what conditions. Blending historical and geographical analysis, this book examines the vital relationship between struggles over public space and movements for social justice in the United States. Don Mitchell explores how political dissent gains meaning and momentum--and is regulated and policed--in the real, physical spaces of the city. A series of linked cases provides in-depth analyses of early twentieth-century labor demonstrations, the Free Speech Movement and the history of People's Park in Berkeley, contemporary anti-abortion protests, and efforts to remove homeless people from urban streets.


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Includes a 2014 Postscript addressing Occupy Wall Street and other developments. Efforts to secure the American city have life-or-death implications, yet demands for heightened surveillance and security throw into sharp relief timeless questions about the nature of public space, how it is to be used, and under what conditions. Blending historical and geographical analysis, Includes a 2014 Postscript addressing Occupy Wall Street and other developments. Efforts to secure the American city have life-or-death implications, yet demands for heightened surveillance and security throw into sharp relief timeless questions about the nature of public space, how it is to be used, and under what conditions. Blending historical and geographical analysis, this book examines the vital relationship between struggles over public space and movements for social justice in the United States. Don Mitchell explores how political dissent gains meaning and momentum--and is regulated and policed--in the real, physical spaces of the city. A series of linked cases provides in-depth analyses of early twentieth-century labor demonstrations, the Free Speech Movement and the history of People's Park in Berkeley, contemporary anti-abortion protests, and efforts to remove homeless people from urban streets.

54 review for The Right to the City: Social Justice and the Fight for Public Space

  1. 4 out of 5

    ☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣

    A very dated view on someting that looks like a debate on who cities belong to. DM seems to think they should belong to everybody. And it seems that they don't: the activists don't feel all too welcome in the middle of busy streets (Occupy Wall Street). Well, big news for activists: other people also want to feel all right in the middle of the same streets, so how about taking that activism somewhere where everyone will be comgortable? The homeless debate makes more sense: yes, the homeless peop A very dated view on someting that looks like a debate on who cities belong to. DM seems to think they should belong to everybody. And it seems that they don't: the activists don't feel all too welcome in the middle of busy streets (Occupy Wall Street). Well, big news for activists: other people also want to feel all right in the middle of the same streets, so how about taking that activism somewhere where everyone will be comgortable? The homeless debate makes more sense: yes, the homeless people are the ones who are not getting their fair share of the benefits our society should make sure everybody gets. Especially the people who got into dire situations and can't get out of it on their own. We should help them, not by letting them own a piece of a busy square but maybe by providing better social help, financial protection, place to live, way to work, feel useful and productive, be as healthy as humanly possible and generally feel reasonably safe and welcome in our society. A lot to do, huh? Well, our jobs are cut out for us. And not in the 'city belonging to some or other parties sense'. So, well, I think the arguments of the book could've been taken a bit further in this direction. Maybe? I'm pretty sure it's not a book, it's me reading it from a very different perspective.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    This is about as forceful an analysis as it comes. If you ask a normal person who a city belongs to, they'll probably say something along the lines of "everybody, of course!" But what Don Mitchell shows is that they don't really mean that, and that unconscious bias slips in, against the homeless, against protesters (across all political stripes), and against anyone who dares disrupt their convenience and their preconceived image of the city. And that, by the way, is when there's actually a discuss This is about as forceful an analysis as it comes. If you ask a normal person who a city belongs to, they'll probably say something along the lines of "everybody, of course!" But what Don Mitchell shows is that they don't really mean that, and that unconscious bias slips in, against the homeless, against protesters (across all political stripes), and against anyone who dares disrupt their convenience and their preconceived image of the city. And that, by the way, is when there's actually a discussion of a space for the public good, something increasingly being sold off throughout the US, and completely and fully corporatized. You will finish this book bitter, despite the hopeful spin Mitchell attempts to put in. But you will finish this book a bit more enlightened.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Chuck

    A significant portion of this book deals with battles over land in the Bay Area (in Berkeley, particularly the Free Speech movement and People's Park). Although Mitchell frames this book as part of a larger inquiry into the politics of space, I found that the theoretical discussions were less compelling than his accounts of the history of these land-based social movements. I particularly enjoyed his discussion of the 1989 battles over People's Park, which were less familiar to me than the events A significant portion of this book deals with battles over land in the Bay Area (in Berkeley, particularly the Free Speech movement and People's Park). Although Mitchell frames this book as part of a larger inquiry into the politics of space, I found that the theoretical discussions were less compelling than his accounts of the history of these land-based social movements. I particularly enjoyed his discussion of the 1989 battles over People's Park, which were less familiar to me than the events in the 1960s.

  4. 5 out of 5

    matt

    What rights to public space do those with no private space have? My four star rating does not mean I completely agree with this book, but the author makes a number of compelling arguments that I am still struggling with. We all want our public spaces to feel safe and inviting, but does that give us the right to force those who might make someone uncomfortable out of the space? Does this mean we can criminalize homelessness? This book is well written, well argued, and definitely well researched. I' What rights to public space do those with no private space have? My four star rating does not mean I completely agree with this book, but the author makes a number of compelling arguments that I am still struggling with. We all want our public spaces to feel safe and inviting, but does that give us the right to force those who might make someone uncomfortable out of the space? Does this mean we can criminalize homelessness? This book is well written, well argued, and definitely well researched. I'm just not sure I agree with all of the conclusions.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    A clearly written exposition of how public space has evolved through a history of struggle, and what exactly is at stake in how we define 'public' and 'democracy' today. A clearly written exposition of how public space has evolved through a history of struggle, and what exactly is at stake in how we define 'public' and 'democracy' today.

  6. 5 out of 5

    David Witte

    good information but not written very well. Difficult to read. Still going at it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Hempen

    Good book to read. Clearly explains why equal access to public space is so important.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    Some prereading on both traditional Marxism as well as critical theories on public space and city planning are necessary to grasp some of the more advanced propositions within the book but overall Mitchell does a great job of grounding his theoretical musings in various events at UC Berkeley

  9. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

  10. 4 out of 5

    Emanuel Santos

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nick

  12. 4 out of 5

    Harshita

  13. 4 out of 5

    Paul

  14. 4 out of 5

    James

    Mitchell argues that the right to space is the result of long conflicts between those who wish to control urban public space and those who push for it to be democratic and accessible. He argues that much of the history is a battle power from below and above in a battle of both space and ideas of who exactly cities are for and how they are to be inhabited. As of late, Mitchell says, at the time of the writing only a couple years after 9/11, that the city had taken a hard turn towards tight contro Mitchell argues that the right to space is the result of long conflicts between those who wish to control urban public space and those who push for it to be democratic and accessible. He argues that much of the history is a battle power from below and above in a battle of both space and ideas of who exactly cities are for and how they are to be inhabited. As of late, Mitchell says, at the time of the writing only a couple years after 9/11, that the city had taken a hard turn towards tight control, with heavily surveilled space, fenced off parks, and private security paid for by business districts and others to maintain that control over outsides from homeless people, drug dealers/users, and idle youth. He seeks to chronicle that history of how fights for public space shaped legal opinion that slowly opened up space for more democratic usage and how it has come under attack again in the 1980s-90s. Chapter one analyses the theory of social justice as it relates to urban public space, and why it is the right to participate in the city and not simply access to basic needs. Cities are often built for people instead of by people, with the argument that order was needed in order for the cities to flourish. Those rights, indeed, are never given, but obtained after struggle. Chapter two lays out the early 20th century struggle for those rights to public space, beginning with the free speech fights of the IWW taking to public speaking to reach the poor. Courts ruled again and again that the government had the right to regulate what it termed as threats to order, such as anti-war and labor demonstrations. Labor picketers gradually won the right to demonstrations in the 1930s, which morphed into public forum doctrine, with free speech zones over the 1950s-60s. Chapter three moves specifically to the Berkley Free Speech Movement, which challenged University administration control over who and how students could demonstrate on campuses. The movement eventually morphed into the symbol of the People’s Park, a former vacant lot which students turned into a public space, though the university technically owned it and always referred to it as open space. Chapter four looks to how it gradually morphed into an encampment dominated by the homeless, which by 1989 the University sought to push out by making the People’s Park into dorms. The community activists fought back and kept the university at bay. Chapter five dovetails nicely by moving to how by the 1990s, a host of anti-homeless laws had swept the cities of the United States, from loitering, to outlawing sleeping outside, to mandating licenses to beg, to outright outlawing panhandling. Mitchell argued that the proponents of law and order sought regulated sanitized space which made it impossible for the poorest to live. Chapter six looks to how law over liberty has gained the upper hand, in engaging in “anti-crime” broken windows policies of aggressively persecuting the homeless. The right to inhabit is now in question, Mitchell argued. Key Themes and Concepts -Public space are those where anyone can participate, and are democratic. Open spaces are private and not concerned with people’s interactions, but instead the mere aesthetics. -The book explores the relationship between social exclusion, social rights, and social justice in public space. -The tension between liberties and rights always contested.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Greg

  16. 5 out of 5

    Stefi

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rosalie

  18. 4 out of 5

    Hajer

  19. 5 out of 5

    Subarashi

  20. 4 out of 5

    Molly Chlebnikow

  21. 4 out of 5

    Josie Ellerman

  22. 5 out of 5

    Gabriel Alonso arias

  23. 4 out of 5

    Terressa

  24. 5 out of 5

    Molly

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tyler

  26. 4 out of 5

    Allan Bloom

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ionuţ

  28. 4 out of 5

    Priyanka Jain

  29. 5 out of 5

    Robert Leavitt

  30. 5 out of 5

    Theresa

  31. 4 out of 5

    Merlyna Lim

  32. 5 out of 5

    Babette

  33. 5 out of 5

    David

  34. 5 out of 5

    Annie

  35. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

  36. 4 out of 5

    beau

  37. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Olmos

  38. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

  39. 4 out of 5

    Alan

  40. 5 out of 5

    Shelby Lillian Smith

  41. 4 out of 5

    Ali Buckley

  42. 4 out of 5

    Katie

  43. 4 out of 5

    Steph

  44. 5 out of 5

    Renee

  45. 5 out of 5

    Adam

  46. 4 out of 5

    C.B. Daring

  47. 4 out of 5

    JuliPi

  48. 5 out of 5

    Peter

  49. 5 out of 5

    Rob

  50. 5 out of 5

    mahatmanto

  51. 5 out of 5

    Edward

  52. 5 out of 5

    Jon Markle

  53. 4 out of 5

    Hobnob

  54. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

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