Handbook of Research on Urban Politics and Policy in the United States

By Ronald K. Vogel | Go to book overview

Chapter 7 Class and Inequality in the City

Louise Jezierski

Cities are organized through inequality. As sites of both poverty and opulence, they seem to Americans, who have faith in the mass and the middle class, both perverse and fascinating. In the United States we are ambivalent about our cities, evident in our particular patterns of social class settlements ( Beauregard 1993; White and White 1962). Moreover, our choices of residences reinforce inequality. In the United States, most wealthy and middle-class Americans have abandoned the city for the suburbs in an idealized attempt to "control" democracy, escape difference, and reify homogeneity along lines of class and race and patriarchal gender relations. Yet cities are wonderful precisely because of the surprise and challenge that come with the extensive social differentiation and juxtaposition found there: They contain a "mosaic of social worlds" ( Wirth 1938). Our nation's concerns over diversity and inequality seem to be concentrated on the city as a site of social problems: homelessness, ghettoization, gentrification, and the increasing gaps in income and wealth between cities and suburbs. The city is a compelling subject because there is no greater test of our democratic ideals than in the multifaceted metropolis.

Urban research is guided by widespread agreement that urban processes are constituted through uneven development. It focuses on causes and patterns of social inequality and the politics of managing it. Theories of social stratification and urban research have been developed together, since the city, to some degree, contributes to the creation and maintenance of inequalities. Moreover, uban theories reflect upon and inform social reform policies. Below, I discuss how urban research incorporates theories of social inequality. First, I review definitions of social class in urban ecology and political economy, the convergence of a conflict approach with the paradigm shift in urban research, and new debates over polarization and fragmentation in the postindustrial city.

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Handbook of Research on Urban Politics and Policy in the United States
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • Part I Theories, Methods, and Concepts 1
  • Chapter 1 Theoretical Models in Urban Politics 3
  • References 14
  • Chapter 2 Research Methods in Urban Politics and Policy 17
  • References 26
  • Chapter 3 Urbanization 31
  • References 40
  • Chapter 4 Community 42
  • References 53
  • Chapter 5 Power in Urban America 58
  • References 70
  • Chapter 6 Race and Ethnicity in the City 75
  • Notes 87
  • References 87
  • Chapter 7 Class and Inequality in the City 92
  • Notes 103
  • References 104
  • Chapter 8 Gender in the City 109
  • Note 118
  • References 119
  • Part II Governance and Politics 127
  • Chapter 9 Urban Government 129
  • Notes 142
  • References 143
  • Chapter 10 Participation in Local Politics 146
  • References 156
  • Chapter 11 Neighborhoods 159
  • References 167
  • Chapter 12 Central Cities and Suburbs 170
  • Notes 181
  • References 182
  • Chapter 13 Metropolitan Government 185
  • Notes 195
  • References 195
  • Chapter 14 Urban Service Delivery 197
  • References 206
  • Chapter 15 Urban Management 210
  • References 219
  • Chapter 16 Budgeting in the City 222
  • Notes 231
  • References 232
  • Part III Development 235
  • Chapter 17 Urban Economy 237
  • Notes 244
  • References 245
  • Chapter 18 Urban Planning and Development 249
  • References 258
  • Chapter 19 Economic Development 261
  • Notes 267
  • References 268
  • Part IV Problems and Policy 273
  • Chapter 20 Policy Process 275
  • References 285
  • Chapter 21 Housing 290
  • References 302
  • Chapter 22 Urban Poverty, Public Policy, and the Underclass 306
  • References 318
  • Chapter 23 Urban Education, Politics, and Policy 324
  • References 336
  • Chapter 24 Police, Crime, and Crime Prevention 339
  • References 351
  • Chapter 25 Urban Health, Politics, and Policy 356
  • References 369
  • Chapter 26 Equal Opportunity in the City 372
  • References 380
  • Chapter 27 Urban Transportation 383
  • Note 394
  • References 394
  • Chapter 28 Cities and the Environment 396
  • Notes 406
  • References 407
  • Chapter 29 National Urban Policy 410
  • References 423
  • Appendix: Data Sources and Secondary Information Found in Urban Document Centers and State and Local Archives 427
  • References 439
  • Index 443
  • About the Contributors 451
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