Social & Spatial Justice


Harvey’s chapter brings in the spatial dimension to capitalism and market trade. He also brings the working class into the discourse. In one page, using the example from the US or France, summarize his views on capitalism and its relation to spatial injustice. In your second page explain the main forces that Soja believe derives injustice and how? Then, in your views and according to their importance, rank the four approaches (by Haughton) to achieving just sustainable urban development and why do you ranked them in this order of importance.


9 thoughts on “Social & Spatial Justice

  1. Harvey is very critical of capitalism as he understands how the push and pull of consumerist economies creates spatial injustice especially in cities. After WWII, Robert Moses adapted the ideas that Georges-Eugène Haussmann had applied to Paris to scale the urbanism of New York City and reinvigorate the economy. The post war atmosphere already had established political repression among dissidents which allowed for Moses’ plan to unfold smoothly. Moses focused on the metro region of New York City which allowed for expansion of growth beyond the island of Manhattan, linking the city to the areas of Brooklyn and the Bronx laid the platform for his plan.
    As new highways and infrastructure were being built , financial institutions and borrowing schemes were being reimagined to allow for this type of “debt-financed urban expansion”. As Harvey notes, this system seems feasible until the economy collapses; and this type of system can only be deemed as successful when viewed through a very narrow lens of who is actually benefitting from this system. There was a great and intentional divide on who was allotted money and financing to move to the suburbs and purchase houses. Mostly middle and upper class white families were granted this opportunity. Discriminatory and predatory lending practices still continue to this day and have contributed to the housing market collapse numerous times in the United States.
    Capitalization is setup to produce excess surplus of goods, and especially post-war, the push to create markets for disposing of this surplus was fabricated through advertisement and cultural shifts to promote consumer lifestyles. This influenced the planning and development of urban and suburban areas as the manufacturing and selling of automobiles became deeply entrenched in the American social fabric. As Harvey notes these lifestyle advances were not provided or allowed for people of colors and especially for African-Americans who lived in the city center. Trapped by poverty and the inability to advance economically influenced the cycle of the increase of crime and disparity that is still felt in today’s cities. Harvey also explained how this movement of the rich and wealthy to certain areas of the city, left the city center “hollowed out”, which then led to decrease of New York City being a centralized urban core and instead fueled the spread of suburbanization throughout the region.
    What is most appaling about the capitalist system is the deliberate manipulation of markets and systems to benefit a few at the expense of many. Harvey blatantly scolds capitalism for keeping the working class oppressed through debt accumulated from mortgages and car payments. The theory being that workers cannot rebel or make demands against unfair working conditions and will have less economic mobility when they live paycheck to paycheck due to heavy debt. The push towards suburban living also changed the political makeup of the citizens and Harvey does not shy away from blaming this push towards conservative republicanism as an underlying issue to the current situations we face in cities. It is interesting to note how this has also played into the election of our current administration. What is also interesting to note is most of the time this political faction often votes for policies and government representation that in fact acts against the good of the people that vote for them.
    One of the main forces that Soja notes as contributing to injustice is the lack of analysis of both the outcome and the process. He notes that it is “more difficult to identify and understand underlying processes” that continue to maintain injustice. This is why he emphasizes the need to use spatiality as a tool to understand and change injustice, without looking at all of the layers it is harder to define an appropriate solution. Geography is a main contributor to injustice as it dictates access to resources, can be used oppressively and has political and social connotations intertwined.
    Gerrymandering is a very real and current issue with how geography and spatial injustice are played out. It could also be argued that in the United States the use of the electoral college to elect the president is also related to this phenomenon of spatial injustice.
    Similar to Harvey, Soja also notes that capitalism has a heavy influence on how spatial injustice is played out both in the United States and internationally. Capitalism and urbanism work together as “ a primary source of inequality and injustice in that the accumulation of locational decisions in a capitalist economy tends to lead to the redistribution of real income in favor of the rich over the poor.” These systems inherently favor the wealthy and white of society which further perpetuates poverty and limits economic mobility for certain populations. Soja, Harvey and Haughton all illustrate that if the goal is a more equal and just world, we cannot continue along the current path and need to stop repeating the same processes and evaluations of the past.
    Haughton’s approaches to achieving sustainable urban development ranked by order of importance are fair share, self reliant and redesigning. I am not even counting externally dependant cities as an option as I believe the concept of high economic growth to create wealth which will then solve issues of inequality is a fallacy that has been proven as inadequate. This approach is just another way that the elite maintain power and wealth.
    I ranked fair share cities as the top approach as it embraces the current globalized trade system that we must accept as the current and future status of economy. Fairly traded goods have been established as a morally, socially and environmentally sound way to provide income to lower income populations while still playing the capitalist game. More work needs to be completed in creating fairly traded waste streams and better regulations to protect developing countries from pressure of developed countries.
    Fair share cities could be even more successful when paired with self reliant cities and redesigning cities. These three approaches, if worked on simultaneously, could really prove to be successful in creating sustainable cities, regions and countries. Cities should aim to be self-reliant with the understanding that trade with other cities and areas can be beneficial both economically and culturally. As most cities have already been built and established, we also need to work on redesigning and reworking cities to achieve sustainability. A multi-pronged approach itself is more sustainable and resilient than focusing on just one approach to solve issues that are so multidimensional.

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  2. In the “The Right to the City”, David Harvey explains that a system of capitalism has held a stronghold on the process of urbanization throughout the world. Harvey explains that cities allow for the production and absorption of capital surplus, a necessary element of capitalism. This creation and absorption of capital surplus does not always happen naturally and it often benefits the rich at the expense of the poor and working class. For example, after WWII new financing schemes were being created to try to solve the capital-disposal problem. In an attempt to boost the economy, Robert Moses used tax arrangements for debt-financing urban expansion by engineering a system of highways, infrastructure, and suburbanization. This expansion meant the spatial characteristics of cities and regions would change and these changes benefitted those of higher socio-economic status.

    First, the expansion of suburbs espoused a lifestyle of consumerism as new homeowners were also given access to new goods like automobiles, refrigerators and air conditioners. This cultural shift has had long lasting economic impacts like in the increase of oil consumption in the United States. It also had an enormous impact in the social and political fabric of the United States, as subsidized homeownership in the suburbs was reserved for white families. This meant white families had a choice of where to live, whereas communities of color and particularly African American communities were limited to living in the cities, which at this point were experiencing extreme divestment. The creation of suburbs also attracted further investment to those areas; investment that were kept from inner city areas which were deemed undesirable to invest in. The families who were given the opportunity to buy property were able to accrue equity in their homes and thus, build wealth. This wealth has been passed down through generations. Wealth building through homeownership was denied to African Americans, which has helped perpetuate the socio-economic inequity between White and African American households in the United States.
    Today, we see how urbanized capitalism continues to impact vulnerable populations. This impact can be manifested as a process or as an outcome of urbanization, as mentioned by Soja in the article “The City and Spatial Justice”. A struggle exists by those who have been denied participation in the decision-making processes that shape the city they live in. For example, there are rarely systems in place that allow for vulnerable populations to be included in the process that devise where resources will be placed within a city. The same can be said about the placement of infrastructure that can have negative impact on a community such as polluting industries or the building of highways which have displaced neighborhoods though eminent domain. Capitalism also affects urbanization as an outcome. Harvey mentions the concept of “displacement and dispossession” that push poor people out of the city or simply takes away their choice of where to live, work, and play. In the US, this is manifested through the commodification of the real estate market and through predatory and discriminatory lending practices, for which the outcome is the segregation of cities based on race and class and the perpetuation of poverty.

    Soja explores the concept of spatial justice, which refers to the fair distribution of resources within a certain geography and the ability to use them. To Soja, discrimination based on class, race and gender is the main contributor to spatial justice. Certain privileges and advantages are given to populations based on these categories. For example, as I mentioned before, not only did subsidized homeownership afforded to white families create segregated communities, it also allowed white families to build wealth. Soja also mentions the political organization of space which is often manifested though policies and practices such as redlining, exclusionary zoning and the imprint of colonial and/or military geographies of social control to name a few. Ultimately, these policies and practices decide where resources are placed, where and what investments are made and who gets access to what. Lastly, like Harvery, Soja explains that the everyday activities of an urban system relates to a capitalist economy and contributes to injustice. This is manifested though the redistribution of income within a capitalist society which tends to favor the rich. He mentions how this is impacted by the accumulation of locational decisions. I think this is a great point. If we look back to the example of subsidizing homeownership to white families, we can see how this decision led to the ability of these families to build wealth. The desirability of the suburbs then attracted other investments which increased job prospects for suburb dwellers creating a stable tax base. This led to the ability to fund good public schools, which increased the ability of those students who attended those schools to be admitted into good universities. These students were also able to afford university with the help of the wealth their parents had been accruing. With a college education, these students are able to access higher paying jobs giving them access to higher incomes and homeownership in desirable locations.

    In the article ” Environmental Justice and Sustainable City” Haughton describes four approaches to reaching environmental sustainability and includes equity principles which should be considered when analyzing these approaches. I think the Redesigning Cities approach is the most achievable, as it attempts to use existing frameworks in cities to recreate the way we think of city design and try to solve how resources are used and distributed. There is an element of participatory planning in this approach and potential to take elements of other approaches like the self-reliant city and fair share cities if appropriate. Secondly, I think the self-reliant city approach would be ideal although much harder to achieve. This approach focuses on minimizing consumption and increase reliance on local resources. There is also an element of participation in the decision-making processes which would contribute to more equitable distribution of resources within the city. The Fair Share Cities approach tries to ensure that environmental assets are traded fairly and that those responsible for environmental degradation are held accountable and provide compensation. I think this approach should be embedded into any approach a region adopts. This is essential for changing behavior of corporations who are the biggest culprits to environmental pollution. From an equity standpoint, this approach ensures that those who bear the brunt of environmental pollution receive reparations and that everyone is held accountable for their contributions whether positive or negative. Ultimately, I think it fights a much larger issue which is the culture of corporate impunity. Finally, I think the external dependent cities approach which suggests environmental problems can be solved though technology and by improving the free market does not work as it is an excuse for consuming more resources in the name of solutions that are not guaranteed.

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  3. Harvey claims that city arises through the concentrations of surplus products. Capitalists produce surplus products in order to gain more benefits and they would reinvest these products to create more surplus value. The most profitable and low-risk terrain for capital-surplus investment is the urbanization which reshape the politics of capitalism. In 1848, crises of both unemployed surplus capital and surplus labor which struck Paris hard also provoked a potential revolution consisted of surplus labors and utopians who saw socialism as an opportunity to solve social inequality. Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte took a series of actions in domestic economy including improving railway network, building ports and roads to help repress the revolution. He appointed Haussmann to “take charge of the city’s public works”.

    Haussmann was clearly aware of that only through urbanization he could help Paris resolve the political revolution and the surplus of products and labor. He enlarged the scale of the utopian plan of rebuilding Paris so that the urban construction of Paris could absorb huge quantities of labor and capital, as well as suppressing the desire of political revolution. Harvey believes that through the absorption of labor, capital and products, urbanization provide capitalists a guaranteed safe way to invest and gain more profit. In addition, the labors would find jobs for living which suggested that they would not take risks for the revolution which might or might not bring them a better world. That is why Haussmann asked the architect to triple the width of boulevard because the larger scale would lead to more consumption. This relative stabilized urban economic system also created possibility for the new financial institutions and debt instruments for urban infrastructure. The process which upgrades the infrastructure system of city also builds a better urban environment for city life and tourism. Paris became the great center of consumption, cafes, luxury stores, bourgeoise class, tourism, pleasure and consumerism.

    However, Harvey also notes that the endless expansion of financial system and credit infrastructure would fall into failure. The crash because of which Haussmann was dismissed is another instance of the excesses of capitalism. The financial crisis suggested that if we chose to accelerate the urbanization instead of following the rule of it, the financial system would finally collapse. Moreover, this acceleration of urbanization evoked people’s nostalgia for the former state of Paris and their desire of restoring it to the original phase. The urbanization boosted by capitalism would make people cherish the historic meaning and landscape which they failed to protect. Spatial injustice in Harvey’s article is more related to the example of New York in which city center was hollowed, and African-Americans were denied access to the new prosperity.

    The most important factor that Soja believe drives social injustice is the geographical patterns. The patterns are internally just/unjust as the product of social (in)justice or as the processes that produce social (in)justice. He further illustrates that created through bias on certain populations, the locational discrimination is fundamental in social injustice. Race, class and gender are the three significant factors in shaping the discrimination. As a student from Jiangsu Province where spatial discrimination is the most severe in China, I also want to add the economic status, historical context and accesses to resources to the major forces. Divided by Yangtze River, the southern area in Jiangsu is much closer to Shanghai and has more fertile land since the river flushes nutrients from upstream and deposit them on the south side. The southern people in Jiangsu discriminate those in northern part who are much poorer and have limited access to ports, investment from Taiwan and foreign countries. Different towns in southern area discriminate others due to local languages and differentiated histories. The geographic pattern is undoubtedly the most important factor in shaping social injustice.

    The political organization is also one important factor which ranges from “the gerrymandering of electoral districts, the redlining of urban investments, and the effects of exclusionary zoning to territorial apartheid“. The inequality in political right allocation reduces the possibility of making sure that everyone’s voice could be heard. Moreover, the redistributive injustice referring to the redistribution of real income in favor of rich over the poor would increase the spatial injustice since the wealth is distributed to the minority. This phenomenon is most obvious geographically in the comparison of houses in suburb areas and slums in the city center.

    I would rank fair share cities as the most effective method for sustainable development of cities. It attracts me by its institutional transformations that connect degradation of environment with repairing or compensating this damage. I appreciate its mechanism of compensation since the globalization has spread the pollution and waste from a certain region to all the corners of the world. Even dealing with local degradation of environment is no longer a regional topic. Self-reliant cities would be ranked as the second appropriate approach. Self-reliance of the city implies a self-cycling system of resource and waste is established. It would “reduce the overall resource consumption; minimize waste streams; and deal with pollution insitu rather than send it to other regions”.

    Redesigning cities is a good approach to improve the poor design of the urban fabric and reduce the energy consumption. However, it implies that it should have as many architects as possible to make design plans to promote higher residential densities or foster mixed land use. It costs too much funding and time which may only happen in developed countries. In China, this redesigning process is always taking place for better urban environment but it also results in waste of resources and energy. Externally dependent cities is not a feasible way to develop a sustainable system of cities. That rich cities transfer their waste and environmental problems to other regions is an irresponsible approach when the earth is facing serious environmental issues.

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  4. As David Harvey says, “we live in a world, in which the rights of private property and profit rate trump all other notions of rights.” When we go on the internet, one of the daily news we see in the newsfeed is about real estates. The news may be unrelated to real estates, but it is the story of value. This is about exchange value. The value of this real estate is not about use value, but it is about market value. The market value of this real estate in this area is essential. Or another critical question is “How much does my house worth?”
    This question is essential, but many people do not think about other one. “What kind of the city we want?” This question frequently comes up during the election of a member of national assembly in South Korea. During the campaign, candidates argue that they are the best one to make the city better. However, most of their argument is based on the exchange value. For example, election pledges include building airport, port, or road to improve the economy of a region. Or remove NIMBY (an acronym for the phrase “Not In My Back Yard”) such as manufacturing plants, power companies, prisons, or chemical companies in his or her neighborhood or town to improve the value of a residential area. These are the examples of spatial inequality and spatial injustice. For example, NIMBY that causes harm to communities most of the time are unevenly distributed such that some communities suffer the effect to significantly greater extent than others outside of Seoul, South Korea. I agree that these are important points. However, “What kind of city do you want?” cannot be segregated from the following questions. “What kind of people we want to be?”, “What kinds of social relations we seek?”, “What relations to nature do we cherish?”, “What style of life we desire?” Therefore, right to the city is right to change ourselves by changing the city. Harvey argues that the right to the city is far more than the individual liberty to access urban resources.
    He also talks about Marxism. Harvey argues that “cities have arisen through geographical and social concentrations of a surplus product.” Therefore, urbanization is a class phenomenon, “since surpluses are extracted from somewhere and from somebody, while the control over their disbursement typically lies in a few hands.” Since urbanization depends on the mobilization of a surplus product, an intimate connection emerges between the development of capitalism and urbanization. The capitalism, mobilization of the surplus product, and urbanization lead to capitalism and politics. Politics may provide methods to obstacles that capitalism faces.
    Harvey gave a historical example of Second Empire Paris in 1848. After the industrial revolution, surplus product caused crises of both unemployed surplus capital and surplus labor, which politicians dealt with using a vast program of infrastructure investment both at home and abroad such as the construction of grand works such as Suez Canal. These entailed the reconfiguration of the urban infrastructure of Paris. This help to solve the surplus-capital and unemployment problem through urbanization.
    As many economists argue that social and spatial changes cause substantial construction of residential area and these modifications play an essential role in the economy of United States. Harvey says that the global urbanization boom has depended on the development of new financial institutions and arrangement to organize the credit required to sustain lasted until the 1980s. The financial innovations set in train in the 1980s which also caused spreading risk and permitting surplus saving pools access to surplus housing demand. They also brought aggregated interest rates down, while generating immense fortunate from the financial intermediaries. But spreading risk does not eliminate it. In summary, Harvey argues that the right to the city is the cause and effect of capitalism and the circumstance during the urbanization that happens as social, economic, and spatial changes, not as exchange values.

    People define inequality in different ways that have implications for social justice according to Soja. She says “The spatial (in)justice refers to an intentional and focused emphasis on the spatial or geographical aspects of justice and injustice.” The author states that (a) locational discrimination, (b) political organization of space, (c) the everyday activities of urban functioning, and (d) geographically uneven development and underdevelopment are the primary forces that derive injustice.
    Geographic locations are fundamental in the production of spatial injustice and the creation of lasting spatial structure of privilege and advantages. The three most familiar forces of shaping spatial discrimination are the class, race, and gender. For example, poor black residents are geographically concentrated in poorly serviced townships or informal settlements on the boundary of towns and cities in South Africa. Some of the political organization of space includes the institutionalized residential segregation, redlining of urban investments, and effects of exclusionary zoning to territorial apartheid. For example, the National Development Plan 2030 addresses the spatial disparities created by land and housing laws which are significant policy challenges in South Africa. The everyday activities of urban functioning that the accumulation of locational decisions in the capitalist economy leads to the redistribution of real income in favor of the rich over the poor. For example, highly educated, middle-high class people are attracted to Seoul where headquarters of Samsung, LG, and Hyundai are. This trait automatically brings in better facilities or services that are necessary for health and well-being of this community than the other locations. Every, a geography that we live in has some degree of injustice embedded in it which makes it harder for people to select the site of living and or working.

    I would rank four approaches to sustainable urban development in the order of importance as the following: (1) externally dependent cities, (2) fair shares cities, (3) self-reliant towns, and (4) redesigning cities. I agree to a certain degree that environmental problems can be efficiently addressed by improving the workings of the free market. If the free market discussed environmental issues, we would have fewer issues to worry about. I think fair shares cities. If we can ensure that environmental assets are traded relatively without degrading environments, economics, and societies will be ideal. I do not think self-reliant city alone will help sustainable urban development in any scale because we are intertwined in regional, local, national, and global level. The redesigning approach, fix what is broken, is hard to challenge the underlying causes of spatial injustices.

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  5. David Harvey, in Right to the City, speaks about how urbanization was closely tied to capital surpluses. In Paris, in the late 1840s there occurred a crisis of both unemployed surplus capital as well as surplus labor. This led to revolutions by the working class and others fighting the system. With this, Napolean Bonaparte came to power and brought in Haussmann to take charge of the city’s public works. Haussman sought to solve the problem of surplus capital and unemployment through urbanization and rebuilding Paris, which absorbed most of the labor and capital. And with this, Paris transformed into a center of consumption and tourism, run by consumerism. With new and clean streets, from a dingy and a place of desperate conditions, Paris became the “City of Light”.

    But this also caused widespread discontent as the process took away the legal rights of the citizens, and tore down their homes and buildings to make way for the new street boulevards and fashionable apartments. The Paris Commune, a later event in capitalist urban history focussed on how urbanization destroyed the medieval charm and history of Paris and dispossessed many people of their lands and rights. What Haussmann did in Paris is often seen as an example of urbanization-led spatial injustice, especially concerning the poor of the city. Harvey notes how urbanization was central to the survival of capitalism and was bound to be a crucial focus of political and class struggle but also that it was destroying the differences between city and rural through the creation of integrated spaces across the place.

    In Edward W Soja’s article – The city and spatial justice, he addresses the spatiality of justice in global and local scales. The example of Los Angeles where when challenged about the decision of locating the mass transit near the wealthier side of the city, instead of being of use to the working class, is noteworthy. In the case of India’s Dharavi, a slum sitting on prime land in the middle of the city, there have been a lot of activism to move the slum dwellers to slum rehabilitation centers, in spite of being the backbone of the city of Mumbai and this resonates with the case brought in my Soja, of how capitalism and urbanism are the main factors that promote spatial injustice. Corruption is probably an added factor of much importance in developing countries around the world where the government is dependent on powerful and wealthy establishments and might work to their benefits while ignoring the pleas of its own citizens.

    The four approaches to achieving sustainable urban development, as listed by Haughton are as follows – self-reliant cities, redesigning cities, externally dependent cities, fair share cities. While all the approaches are significantly different, I do not believe that a single approach could make any city sustainable. A city needs to be self-reliant as well as externally dependant at the same time as characteristics of cities vary from one to another. Redesigning of cities can help them work better and fair share cities are cities which value the environment equally are as well important to making a city sustainable. I believe that these four approaches need to co-exist in order to make a city sustainable and cannot be ranked one below the other but should rather be seen with the same eye.


  6. Wikipedia has a great article on Altruism, and I recommend everyone read the section on evolutionary explanations:

    Harvey discusses the relationship between urbanization and the processes of capitalism. Capitalism functions by the sale of surplus goods and labor for profit. That profit can be spent on reinvestment in the means of production and efficiency in order to get more profit more efficiently out of fewer resources and labor expenses. This drives innovation as it becomes more and more desirable to do things well, quickly, and cheaply and sell them quickly and at a high margin. In order for this system to work there must be some initial surplus, the farmer (for example) must grow more corn so he can buy a bigger tractor so he can grow even more corn, so he can invest in better trucks to get even more corn to market faster, and so on and so on. Financial markets invest and invent new ways to move money around so there is always an apparent surplus. However, in order to sell this surplus there must also be a buyer and the economy gets into trouble when industry produces more than can be consumed. The markets tend to collapse when this happens.

    In Paris, following Bonaparte’s rise to power there was a surplus of labor and of capital and a dearth of consumption so Bonaparte absorbed these surpluses and avoided a financial collapse by engaging capital and labor in the building of public works and re-designing Paris. Problem solved? These massive works, however, occurred to the detriment of the poor and the marginalized, who became even more poor and more marginalized once they lost their position within the urban landscape. The same thing happened in the United States following the Second World War. Public works plowed through poorer, African American inner-city communities. These people were deprived of their homes, resources, and communities and simultaneously excluded from the suburbs, where the benefits of a booming economy could be seen in the rich lifestyles.

    Cities are fundamentally products of capitalism because they are sustained on the surpluses of natural resources and agriculture but do not produce these things themselves. The way that cities are organized is to the benefit of those that are higher up on the economic ladder of capitalism, which perpetuates economic divides.

    I really appreciate this reading because Harvey has articulated something that people now commonly perceive but don’t fully understand – that capitalism has shaped us in ways we do not like and do not want to perpetuate. I think prejudice is a fundamental human instinct – to sort and support kin over non-kin – but that doesn’t mean we should enhance and reinforce it in the way we build our cities, economies, and laws.

    In his paper, Soja expressed that spatial injustice is an intentional movement towards distributing space along class, race, gender, and sexual divides with the side of the wealthy, capitalist, white, heteronormative, government in control of where and how resources are allocated. It is a way of looking at social and economic justice spatially and there are very distinct correlations between how we arrange space and how we think. We are physical, spatial beings as well as social and temporal – we exist in and inhabit space and how we interact with each other and how we spend our time are acted on by how we arrange space. This is not only profound but very exciting and validating to the practice of planning and designing space because we must consider how we are designing human-to-human interactions at the same time as we are placing buildings, plants, roads and sidewalks in relation to each other.

    In an un-just arrangement the in-group is situated in close proximity to better public facilities, such as schools, hospitals, shopping districts, and transportation. Their time and economic activity is more highly valued than the out-group which is far away from resources and facilities and must spend valuable time and fuel traveling back and forth. Often times the out-group is prohibited by high prices and sometimes specific legislation from living adjacent to high-quality public resources even though they pay into the public system through taxes. Once created, these divides are not only a representation of basic prejudices but serve to reinforce and perpetuate them.

    These prejudices between in-groups and out-groups can be reinforced by the very real practice of gerrymandering political districts. This spatial arrangement of borders creates regions in which the poor are disadvantaged when they go (or fail to go because of time and expense) to the polls. This is unacceptable in a democratic society where votes are supposed to be counted as equal but access to voting is not.

    Soja emphasizes that perfectly even development with no spatial or social injustice imbedded in it is impossible and that intervention must be targeted and intentional. I think spatial and environmental injustice is coming to the forefront of public discourse and more and more I’m hearing about design taking access by disadvantaged out-groups into consideration. It will probably be a long time before these design principles become codified and reflexive, if they ever do, but at least the process is in motion.

    Haughton identified four principles to use in the movement towards a more equitable and sustainable state. He is careful to express that total equity is probably not a realistic goal but that it is a process and a journey, not a real destination. He listed four principles and I rank them in order of my notions of importance: procedural, geographic, inter-generational, intra-generational.

    I put procedural equity at the top because without it we cannot involve those who are treated unfairly in spatial and legislative decisions that affect them. The in-group cannot make decisions for the out-group because doing so perpetuates the priorities of the in-group. In behavioral ecology it is believed that true altruism does not exist – that is there is no truly unselfish act. Everything we do is done to benefit our own self-interests in some way, so expecting those who have already benefited from unequal distribution of power and resources to act against their own self-interest is unrealistic and impossible. Only by giving the out-group power to pursue their own self-interest and make their own decisions will be able to turn the tide.

    Second is spatial equity. If we re-distribute space irrespective of privilege and social divides, eventually people will start associating across those divides in the interest of their neighbors rather than people far away.

    Third is inter-generational equity for the reason that we are temporal and rifts between the generation that is more solidified in its power and the upcoming powerless generation will only enhance any racial, economic, and social distinctions.

    Last, I rank intra-generational equity, not because it is least important in an absolute sense but because it is reinforced by the previous three and if we can approach and improve the first three we may have very little injustice to address once we sift it all down to its intra-generational roots.


  7. In “The Right to the City” David Harvey presents the close relationship that cities and capitalism have with one another. Through efficiencies of proximity and specialization, cities are concentrations of surplus product. Capitalism mobilizes surpluses to generate surplus value: wealth. However, to create more wealth, surplus value must be reinvested to generate more surplus value. Harvey, therefore argues that capital accumulation has coincided with the growth of urbanization.
    Capitalism as a means of production is interesting because it contains forces beyond that of producing for the needs of individuals. In the most basic of circumstances, goods are produced as they are needed, there is no surplus. Capitalism must produce for the sake of keeping the system operational, regardless if anyone actually needs the production output. This output must be absorbed: the product must be sold for profit. This circumstance has influenced urbanization.
    The United States entered in to the Great Depression in the 1930s, due in part to the over production of goods. These goods could not be absorbed quickly enough because there were not enough buyers. Many goods produced at the time were durable and once purchased, did not need repurchasing often, and the concept of planned-obsolesce- goods designed to be useful for a limited period of time was not yet common. World War II pulled the US out of the recession buy providing a significant way to absorb surplus goods since the war required vast amounts of supplies and equipment- much of it disposable (ammunition, explosives, fuel etc.).
    After World War II, it was understood that another means of absorption was needed and suburbanization became the answer. Suburbanization assisted many sectors: real estate, construction, road building, automobile companies, insurance companies, and consumer goods industry. Suburbanization did solve the need for more housing, although other housing models could have been implemented, with many successful cases in post-war Europe. However, suburbanization allowed for the additional surplus absorption through requirement of more roads, necessity of the automobile, and the ample space to fill with consumer goods.
    Suburbanization became a product in itself: a prestigious lifestyle that should be emulated. The end result is one of the greatest migrations in American history, the departure of whites to the suburbs, taking with them wealth and capital. People of color, specifically blacks, through racist policies were forced to remain in urban cores. The result of this spatial reconfiguration based on race and socioeconomic differences is still problematic today.
    In “The city and spatial justice” Edward W. Soja explains the main forces that drives injustice are forces relating to space: the fair and equitable distribution of valued resources, therefore making geographic location a deciding factor, as well as race, class, and gender. The political organization in control of space is a powerful influence on spatial injustice. Through capitalism, value is placed on space, and those who can afford the optimal locations have the best access to resources. Spatial justice does not equate to complete socio-spatial equality, this is not considered possible.
    In “Environmental Justice and the Sustainable City”, Graham Haughton presents four categories towards the development of sustainable cities. I rank the redesign of cities and “fair share cities” as the most useful models, while self-reliant cities and externally dependent cities as less optimal models. Cities, as complex systems, yet systems none the less contain great potential for efficiencies that can support sustainability (reduction of automobile reliance, development of walkable communities etc.). The fair share city model has great potential, especially when coupled with city redesign. Charging users for the full cost of a product, including its ecological impact would cause consumers to think differently about their needs. Because we live in a highly interconnected, globalized world, the self-reliant city makes less sense to me, because greater efficiencies can be achieved through specialization by specific locations. Lastly, I do not believe that the externally dependent cities model is a viable means towards sustainability. Adopting a high economic growth system only puts lesser developed cities on the same trajectory towards a city model that has yet to solve social inequality and environmental issues.

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  8. David Harvey presents us the story of how urbanization is related to absorbing the capital surpluses at the price of scarifying the rights to the city. After World War II, The U.S. suffered from crisis of unemployment since the temporary solution of capital-surplus brought by war was disappeared. To create more absorption of capital-surplus, Robert Moses changed the scale of city (highways, infrastructure and suburbanization) by debt-finance urban expansion.
    This process exacerbated spatial injustice in several ways. Firstly, the suburbanization not only changed the infrastructure, increased consumption of goods, but also transferred community toward the possessive of individualism. Secondly, those process increased power of rich elites and then boosted social and spatial gap between poor and rich people. Thirdly, the person who holds more personal property had more right to dispossess of the spaces. They could afford the space built to boost consumption like shopping mall. They could not easily be persuaded to trade to give up their valued assets at any price as poor person. Hence, the spatial injustice and isolation emerged.
    Based on what David Harvey has discussed, the spatial injustice brought by capitalism root to the fact that the development of city was controlled by several hands instead of public. Capitalism system, managed by a few hands/wealth elites, benefits a few hands but sacrifice all. The nature of human being is to pursue the benefits for themselves than for the whole society, which alters the urbanization toward the individual assets of wealth elites. Hence, the right to the city – the liberty for public to make and remake our cities and us is necessary. That’s why David Harvey concerns about the right to the city.
    In Soja’s opinions, the spatial (in)justice is a process of unfair geographies features, distributional patterns creating the outcomes. At firstly, spatial injustice was initiated by uneven geographies patterns. As David Harvey said, cities have arisen through geographical and social concentration of resources. The resources and geographical advantages we demand are distributed unevenly in space, which courses injustice. The farmer from mountain region in less developed area in China, working as hard as the farmer who lives in fertile plain areas in Yangtze River Delta in China, would harvest less crops than his delta region friends. The spatial injustice emerged once human being choose to settle down in a certain place. Moreover, the imbalance distribution system accelerates spatial injustice. Capitalism tends to allocate resources inequity based on income, which provides rich people more opportunities than poor man. Besides, political power are mastered by several hands who manipulates the resources distribution based on interest of governor instead of public.
    I tend to think that the problem of spatial injustice is far more than its existence. It is, moreover, the stabilization of this injustice. The rich elite household 300 hundred years ago are still process the advantage resources and space, which diminishes the desire of ordinary people to work hard and deprives the right of poor people pursuing their dreams.
    I think the fair share cities are more useful in addressing unsustainable urban development. Firstly, in fair share cities model, different cities consume waste from other places though trades and exchanges. It means that share cities are built on the communication and capitalism logic, which is closer to the reality. Secondly, fair share cities model reduce new resources consumption without sacrificing human demand for resource use by consume the wastes. Self-reliant cities could also contribute to sustainable cities by assist fair share cities. When we consider trading waste with other cities, we have to think about whether we have those resources already. We should firstly enlarger the self-sustainability to reduce the resources consumption by transportation. Externally dependent cities could empower the ability to address environmental problems in some way, but the capitalism would also boost unfair in environmental protection as spatial injustice.
    I strongly disagree with the redesigning cities approach. Based on what we have discussed about spatial injustices and the right to the city. The problems of cities are results of inappropriate process. If we redesigned the space without changing the social, political process behinds them, the same problems would emerge again by following the similar problematic process. The reason I dislike redesigning cities is that it focus on result instead of process.

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